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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Friday, March 5th (All times eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (34-26-6-2) at Phoenix Coyotes (20-26-15-5), 9 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Newly-acquired winger Alexei Kovalev will make his debut for the Canadiens this evening, as Montreal heads into Glendale Arena to face the Phoenix Coyotes.

Kovalev, who was acquired by the Canadiens from the New York Rangers on Tuesday for Jozef Balej and a second-round pick in the 2004 Draft, watched Wednesday's contest against San Jose from the press box. Kovalev had 13 goals and 29 assists for the Rangers this season

The Canadiens were handed a 4-3 setback by the Sharks at HP Pavilion on Wednesday night. Marco Sturm and Niko Dimitrakos ended the second period with consecutive goals to snap a tie and lead San Jose to the win.

Yanic Perreault posted a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, who had a five- game winning streak snapped. Andrei Markov and Mike Ribeiro also added goals for Montreal.

Jose Theodore stopped 25 shots for the Canadiens, who have 76 points and are currently in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

The Habs, who have dropped five of their last seven road games, play the third test of a four-game swing Saturday in Los Angeles.

The Coyotes continued their recent slide on Tuesday night, as they were handed a 5-4 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. Ryan Smyth notched his second goal of the game midway through overtime to lift the Oilers.

Chris Gratton posted a goal and two assists for the Coyotes, who are now winless in six straight (0-3-1-2). They also remained without a victory under new head coach Rick Bowness, who has been behind the bench for the last four.

Mike Sillinger, Tyson Nash and Daymond Langkow each posted a goal in the loss while Brian Boucher made 22 saves. Sillinger, though, was traded to St. Louis on Thursday in a deal that brought goaltender Brent Johnson to the desert.

Montreal is unbeaten in the last six meetings with the Coyotes (3-0-3) and 2-1-2 in its previous five trips to Phoenix.

03/05 10:31:35 ET

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