The Montreal Canadiens return home tonight following a six game road trip to face the Ottawa Senators. It will be the second meeting of the season between the two Atlantic Division rivals, with the Senators coming out on top in a decisive 4-1 victory on November 7th.
The two former Northeast Division foes met in the first round of the NHL Playoffs last season, with the 7th seeded Senators pulling off an upset and ousting the Habs in just five games. It was a heated series with controversial hits, blowout scores and line brawls that set this rivalry into high gear.
Both teams will be entering tonight’s contest coming off wins in their last game, with the Habs defeating the Dallas Stars 6-4 on Thursday night. It was the final game of a six game road trip, and gave Montreal a 3-2-1 record over that span.
Ottawa is beginning to heat up, after a mostly inconsistent first half of the season. The Senators have recorded three straight victories, including wins over the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets. All three of those wins came at the Canadian Tire Center in Ottawa. In fact, the Senators have not won a road game since a 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers just over a month ago, on November 3rd.
The Senators will be without Jason Spezza tonight, as the nifty center will miss a fourth straight game with injury.
For the Canadiens, both Daniel Briere and Alexei Emelin will draw back into the lineup after being healthy scratches in Dallas. It appears Raphael Diaz will take a seat tonight to make room for Emelin in the lineup.
Ryan White left the game in Dallas early with an injury, and will miss tonight’s game. Briere will slot into White’s position as the fourth line center on a line with Michael Bournival and Travis Moen.
This will be the first game of a four game trip for the Senators, who are 7-8-3 on the road this season, and sit just three points behind the Detroit Red Wings for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Habs are 12-7-2 at the Bell Centre and will look to improve that record tonight as they sit two points back of the Tampa Bay Lightning for second in the Atlantic Division.