NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Sunday, February 20th
(All times eastern)
Montreal Canadiens (31-21-7) at Calgary Flames (30-22-8), 6 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The NHL's second outdoor game of the season will take place
tonight in Calgary, as the Flames welcome the Montreal Canadiens for the
Heritage Classic at McMahon Stadium.
Today's game marks the NHL's first regular-season outdoor game in Canada since
the Edmonton Oilers hosted the Canadiens on Nov. 22, 2003. Montreal won that
game by a 4-3 score in what was the first NHL regular season game to be played
Of course, the 2003 Heritage Classic is the game that helped inspire the
Winter Classic -- the outdoor game that the NHL has staged annually on New
Year's Day beginning in 2008. However, the Winter Classic has not only never
had a Canadian host, but there has also yet to be a team from Canada to play
in the New Year's Day showcase.
This year's Winter Classic was hosted by Pittsburgh at Heinz Field, but the
visiting Washington Capitals wound up winning the contest by a 3-1 score. That
game had to be delayed several hours to deal with mild and rainy conditions,
but the forecast for the Heritage Classic is calling for frigid and dry
About 41,000 fans are expected to be on hand for today's contest between these
"It will be a home game I guess because it's in Calgary," Flames captain
Jarome Iginla recently told his team's web site. "But being a whole different
rink and setting, it's a little bit different. It's like preparing for a road
The Flames visited Montreal earlier this season for an indoor battle at the
Bell Centre on Jan. 17 and it wound up being a wild contest. P.K. Subban
scored 66 seconds into overtime to help the Canadiens overcome blowing a four-
goal lead and defeat the Flames, 5-4.
Montreal had lost three straight to the Flames prior to last month's win and
Calgary has also taken five out of nine in the series.
Calgary and the Habs are both in the thick of their respective conference
With 68 points, the Flames are locked in a four-way tie for the final three
postseason berths in the West. Montreal has 69 points and is three ahead of
the New York Rangers for the East's sixth seed. The Canadiens are also four
points behind Boston for first place in the Northeast Division.
The Flames enter today riding a two-game win streak, while Montreal has
dropped its last two outings.
Calgary followed up Monday's 9-1 win at Colorado with Wednesday's 4-2 victory
over Dallas. Cory Sarich and Steve Staios both scored third-period goals as
the host Flames rallied to defeat the Stars at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Olli Jokinen and Tom Kostopoulos also tallied for the Flames, while Miikka
Kiprusoff turned away 22-of-24 shots in the win.
Montreal, meanwhile, lost a home shootout decision to Buffalo on Tuesday and
then was dealt a 4-1 setback Thursday in Edmonton. Ales Hemsky tallied twice
as Edmonton used a three-goal burst in the final period to take down Montreal
at Rexall Place.
Jeff Halpern provided the sole offense for the Canadiens, who have also lost
five of their last six games. Carey Price was tagged for three goals on 27
shots in the setback.
Both Kiprusoff and Price are expected to get the starts in net today at
McMahon Stadium. Kiprusoff is 6-3-0 with a 2.85 goals-against average in 11
career games against the Canadiens.
Meanwhile, Price's only appearance against the Flames was in the memorable
meeting between the clubs last month. Price relieved Alex Auld early in the
third period of that contest and earned the win after stopping all four shots
he faced in just over 18 minutes of action.
Staios is the only member of his team to have played in a regular-season
outdoor game at the NHL level. He was a member of Edmonton when the Oilers
lost the 2003 Heritage Classic to Montreal.
For the Canadiens, defenseman Jaroslav Spacek played for the Buffalo Sabres
when they hosted Pittsburgh at Ralph Wilson Stadium in the inaugural Winter
Classic in 2008. Fellow Habs defenseman James Wisniewski also skated for
Chicago in 2009 when the Blackhawks hosted Detroit at Wrigley Field. However,
Wisniewski is questionable for today's contest after suffering a cut under his
left eye in Thursday's game against Edmonton.
Canadiens forward Mike Cammalleri could be activated from injured reserve in
time to play in today's contest. Cammalleri has been sidelined with a
separated left shoulder since the middle of January.
Montreal defenseman Hal Gill is also expected to return from IR today after
sitting out the last four games with an upper-body injury. Winger Mathieu
Darche is also questionable with a groin injury.
02/20 11:13:50 ET