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Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.27.2012 / 1:25 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Panthers hit home stretch trying to wrap up division

MONTREAL -- The Florida Panthers understand they are in the driver's seat, but they can't help themselves from looking in the rearview mirror from time to time.

While the Panthers prepare to face the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre tonight riding a 5-1-3 stretch in their last nine games, they are acutely aware of just how hot the Washington Capitals have become and how precarious their own hold on the Southeast Division lead is entering the final stretch of the season.

"It's hard not to (notice)," veteran defenseman Ed Jovanovski said of the Capitals' 6-2-2 surge. "We know (Alex) Ovechkin's going crazy right now. But we can control what we can control. We have a three-point lead on them, we're not the ones chasing. So we control what happens to us."

The Panthers have not played significant games this late in the season in years, but securing the franchise's first playoff berth since 2000 is not yet in the bag. The Panthers have a three-point lead on the Capitals and the Buffalo Sabres -- who face each other in Washington tonight -- with a game in hand on both teams.

Still, there's a definite sense of anticipation brewing among the players, coaches and the fans of South Florida.

"Well, seven games (left in the regular season) equals a playoff series, so we still have work to do," coach Kevin Dineen said. "But now that we're in the final stretch, it's exciting. … It's an exciting time to be a Florida Panthers player and fan right now."

A big reason for the Panthers' solid play of late has been goaltender Jose Theodore, who arrives in his hometown riding a 4-1-3 stretch with a .947 save percentage over that span.

"I'd say he's been our team MVP at this juncture," said veteran center John Madden. "We have this belt we give out (for the player of the game), and we can't go three games without him winning it."

However, as great as Theodore's been, he has a poor history against his former team with a 2-2-1 record, 4.62 goals-against average and .861 save percentage in six career games against the Canadiens.

"His record against his previous team, for a guy with his experience, is probably one of the smaller factors," said Dineen, who would not confirm the starting goaltender for the game.

Backup Scott Clemmensen, who left the ice first at the morning skate, is 5-0-0 with a 1.65 GAA and .942 save percentage against the Canadiens in six career starts. It would be surprising if he didn't get the call for this one.

On the Canadiens' side, there is very little to play for other than being spoilers for playoff clubs and auditioning for jobs next season, as they were officially eliminated from playoff contention after Saturday night's 4-1 loss in Philadelphia.

Head coach Randy Cunneyworth confirmed Carey Price will get the start in goal for the Habs.

Here are tonight’s expected lineups:

PANTHERS
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Tomas Kopecky
Wojtek Wolski - Shawn Matthias - Kris Versteeg
Sean Bergenheim - Marcel Goc - Mikael Samuelsson
Scottie Upshall - Jerred Smithson - Marco Sturm

Brian Campbell - Jason Garrison
Mike Weaver - Dmitry Kulikov
Erik Gudbranson - Ed Jovanovski

Scott Clemmensen
Jose Theodore

CANADIENS
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Louis Leblanc - Tomas Plekanec - Rene Bourque
Mike Blunden - Lars Eller - Ryan White
Brad Staubitz - Petteri Nokelainen - Aaron Palushaj

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin
Frederic St-Denis - Chris Campoli

Carey Price
Peter Budaj
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POSTED ON Friday, 03.23.2012 / 2:34 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Senators bolstered by returns of Anderson, Spezza

Craig Anderson and Jason Spezza will return to the Ottawa Senators' lineup Friday night when they face the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre.

Anderson will start his first game since Feb. 22 after a sliced right hand cost him 12 games, while Spezza is coming off a one-game absence due to the flu.

When asked how he was feeling Friday morning, Spezza responded, "I'm going to be playing tonight, so I'm a little bit better."

A little bit?

"Yup."

The Senators enter the game on a two-game losing streak and with just one win in their previous five games, and they are suddenly just three points up on the eight-place Washington Capitals.

Ottawa has a 2-2-1 record against the last-place Canadiens this season, and they face a very difficult test Saturday at home against the powerhouse Penguins.

"It's a big weekend for us and we want to get it off on the right foot," Spezza said. "We need to pick up points wherever we can."

Anderson will face Carey Price in goal, and the Canadiens will be without the injured Scott Gomez, Tomas Kaberle, Travis Moen, Mathieu Darche and Brian Gionta.

Here are the expected lineups for the game:

SENATORS

Colin Greening - Jason Spezza - Milan Michalek
Zack Smith - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Nick Foligno - Jim O'Brien - Chris Neil
Rob Klinkhammer - Zenon Konopka - Erik Condra

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Gilroy

CANADIENS
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Rene Bourque - Tomas Plekanec - Lars Eller
Mike Blunden - Ryan White - Louis Leblanc
Brad Staubitz - Petteri Nokelainen - Aaron Palushaj

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin
Chris Campoli - Yannick Weber
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POSTED ON Saturday, 03.17.2012 / 12:00 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Canadiens, Islanders battle to avoid East's basement

MONTREAL – The Montreal Canadiens welcome the New York Islanders to Bell Centre tonight in what amounts to a battle for last place in the Eastern Conference.

The Islanders (28-32-11) enter the game in 15th place in the conference, one point behind the Canadiens (28-32-12), who have played one more game.

Montreal is on a bit of a hot streak of late with a 3-0-2 record in its last five games after a 2-1 overtime loss Friday night in Ottawa. The Islanders, on the other hand, have been in free fall with a 0-3-2 record in their last five games and just two wins in their past 10.

The Canadiens did not skate Saturday morning, so it is unknown if defensemen Tomas Kaberle and Andrei Markov will be able to play after both missed Friday night with upper-body injuries. Kaberle had missed Montreal’s previous game to attend the birth of his son, while coach Randy Cunneyworth had expressed reservations about playing Markov on back-to-back nights so soon after his long-awaited return from knee surgery before he was declared out in Ottawa.

Scott Gomez remains out with a suspected concussion.

The Islanders will be missing defenseman Steve Staios, who is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Here are the expected lineups for tonight:

ISLANDERS

Matt MoulsonJohn TavaresKyle Okposo
Josh BaileyFrans NielsenPA Parenteau
Michael GrabnerCasey CizikasDavid Ullstrom
Nido Niederreiter – Marty ReasonerMatt Martin

Mark StreitDylan Reese
Travis HamonicAndrew MacDonald
Milan JurcinaMark Eaton

Al Montoya

CANADIENS

Max PaciorettyDavid DesharnaisErik Cole
Rene BourqueTomas PlekanecRyan White
Mike BlundenLars EllerLouis Leblanc
Brad StaubitzPetteri Nokelainen
 
Josh GorgesP.K. Subban
Andrei MarkovAlexei Emelin
Tomas KaberleChris Campoli
Yannick Weber
 
Peter Budaj
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.14.2012 / 2:40 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Surprising Senators can equal Bruins' point total

The Ottawa Senators have a chance to accomplish something Wednesday few people outside the team itself thought possible coming into training camp -- they can grab a share of the Northeast Division lead in March.

While technically the Senators would still be second to the Boston Bruins if they manage to beat the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre, Ottawa would be level on points with a victory.

"Obviously it would be a nice thing to accomplish and we really want to win this game," said Erik Karlsson, the runaway points leader among NHL defensemen who has 10 goals and 11 assists in his last 13 games. "It's not only to catch Boston, but just to keep winning games."

Ottawa's pace has slowed somewhat since losing goaltender Craig Anderson to a cut on his hand, going 4-3-1 in his absence. While Anderson has gotten back on the ice a couple of times, coach Paul MacLean says there is still no timetable for his return.

Still, the fact that the stretch is considered a dip speaks volumes about the performance of a team many picked to finish near the bottom of the conference standings, which is where their opponents Wednesday currently sit.

"We were in their exact position last year," Karlsson said of the Canadiens. "So we know how it feels and we know how we felt. We didn't want to lose any games."

Captain Daniel Alfredsson said the environment created by MacLean from day one was markedly different from last season under Cory Clouston. A heavy emphasis on skating and conditioning in training camp quickly carried over into the regular season, where the team understood how hard it needed to work in order to play MacLean's system.

"We're skating better than we have the last three or four years," Alfredsson said. "(MacLean) has done a great job of making guys accountable, but doing it in a way that's fun, too."

When told the change in atmosphere in the Senators dressing room is striking from last year, Alfredsson quipped, "Ya think?"

But he also conceded that the lack of expectations allowed this Senators team to find its identity without added pressure, something Alfredsson has experienced before on some of the powerhouse Ottawa teams he's played for over his brilliant career.

"It's a lot easier to live up to no expectations than big expectations," he said. "We just took the attitude that we'll prove everyone wrong."

It's safe to say the Senators have already done that, and should they be able to climb into a tie with Boston tonight it would only be another big accomplishment.

The Senators will be facing a Canadiens team that will be missing Tomas Kaberle and Scott Gomez.

Kaberle's wife Julia was expecting the couple's first child Wednesday and he's been excused from playing as a result. It will be the sixth member of the Canadiens to have a baby during this season after Tomas Plekanec, Mike Cammalleri (since traded to the Flames), Hal Gill (traded to Nashville), Travis Moen and Alexei Emelin.

Defenseman Frederic St-Denis was called up from Hamilton and is expected to dress against Ottawa.

Gomez is out with what is widely believed to be a concussion after he was hit from behind Monday by Buffalo's Tyler Myers -- a hit that earned the Sabres defenseman a three-game suspension. Coach Randy Cunneyworth would only concede that Gomez is out with an upper-body injury.

Here are the expected lines for the game:

SENATORS
Colin Greening - Jason Spezza - Milan Michalek
Rob Klinkhammer - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Nick Foligno - Jim O'Brien - Chris Neil
Kaspars Daugavins - Zack Smith - Erik Condra

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Gilroy

Ben Bishop
 
CANADIENS
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Rene Bourque - Tomas Plekanec - Ryan White
Blake Geoffrion - Lars Eller - Louis Leblanc
Brad Staubitz - Petteri Nokelainen
 
Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin
Chris Campoli - Yannick Weber
Frederic St-Denis

Carey Price
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POSTED ON Saturday, 03.10.2012 / 3:36 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Markov activated, could play for Habs

The Montreal Canadiens announced Saturday that Andrei Markov has been taken off injured reserve and is available for their game Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks.

Markov has not played since Nov. 13, 2010, and he has played just seven games since the start of the 2010-11 season after suffering consecutive tears of the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Markov will participate in the warm-up skate with his teammates prior to the game and a decision on whether he will dress or not will be made afterwards.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 03.01.2012 / 2:22 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Geoffrion honoring family's Habs history

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens will attempt to avoid their longest losing streak of the season when they host the Minnesota Wild tonight.

With the playoffs highly unlikely -- and everyone on the team seemingly resigned to that fact -- things like halting a five-game losing streak or improving their League-worst .333 winning percentage on home ice (11-14-8) are what the Canadiens players are focusing on for motivation.

"You play for pride and the logo on the front of your jersey," center Lars Eller said. "That means a lot. So you have to keep that in mind."

Someone who will be feeling a great sense of pride tonight is newcomer Blake Geoffrion, who will play his second game in a Canadiens uniform, but his first at home.

Geoffrion is wearing No. 57 to honor two members of his family who are legends in the Canadiens organization -- his grandfather, Bernard "Boom Boom" Geoffrion (No. 5) and his great-grandfather, Howie Morenz (No. 7).

Another new Canadiens addition has a bit of extra motivation as well, as Brad Staubitz will face the team that placed him on waivers on Feb. 27.

"I really hope I can get my first goal of the year," Staubitz said with a smile.

He last scored a goal April 10, 2011, a span of 44 games. Although he'd probably settle for an assist -- his last point of any kind came on that goal. Better known for physical play, his 90 penalty minutes are the most on the Canadiens.

His former Wild teammates expressed regret that Staubitz was no longer with them, but they have little doubt that should he be called upon to fill play that extra-physical role Thursday, there will be no hesitation.

"I know what a great pro he is, so he's going to go out and play his game and do his job," said Wild coach Mike Yeo. "We expect him to play a very hard game, but having said that I'm sure he'd rather have that role and that responsibility against a team he's not as close with."

Canadiens coach Randy Cunneyworth would not tip his hand as to who will be in his lineup for the game, though he did suggest he would go with seven defensemen once again.

The matchup in goal will pit Carey Price against Niklas Backstrom.

We had the likely Wild lineup earlier; here’s the most likely Canadiens lineup:

Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Ryan White - Tomas Plekanec - Blake Geoffrion
Aaron Palushaj - Lars Eller - Rene Bourque
Scott Gomez - Brad Staubitz
 
Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin - Raphael Diaz
Tomas Kaberle - Chris Campoli
Yannick Weber

With Price starting in goal, Peter Budaj will be the backup.
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POSTED ON Thursday, 03.01.2012 / 1:35 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Palmieri enjoying opportunity with Wild

MONTREAL -- Nick Palmieri has waited all season for an opportunity like he will be getting Thursday when the Minnesota Wild face the Montreal Canadiens.

Palmieri was identified by Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher as the key piece that came back from the New Jersey Devils in the trade for defenseman Marek Zidlicky, and as soon as Palmieri arrived he could see why.

Coach Mike Yeo had Palmieri playing on the second line with Matt Cullen and Cal Clutterbuck for his first two games, but Thursday Palmieri will get bumped to the top line, alongside Kyle Brodziak and Dany Heatley.

"I've been very impressed so far," Yeo said of Palmieri. "The first day you see him he looks like an NHL player. He's got the size, the strength, the way he passes and shoots the puck. Every game that he's played for us -- he's played two now -- he's generated some quality scoring chances. We kind of eased him in, but he's earned himself some more opportunity on that top line and he's a guy we'd like to see on the power play, as well."

Palmieri, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-wing who's just 22 years old, readily admits he was starting to find his role difficult to take in New Jersey. After playing at least 10 minutes in all but one of his first 18 games with the Devils, Palmieri did not reach that mark once in his final 11 games, dating to Nov. 23, a span that included three return trips to the AHL.

"They had their lines pretty much set there, so there wasn't much room for me," said Palmieri. "But that's the way it goes. I'm just excited to play more minutes, no matter who I'm playing with."

Palmieri was getting decent minutes earlier in the season, but the production was slow to come in his second NHL season. Next thing he knew, he was a fourth-line player.

"I kind of got behind the eight-ball early in the year and started to feel the pressure," he said. "When they move you to the fourth line you kind of start to play more passive. You play to not make mistakes instead of trying to make a play."

He certainly will get that opportunity Thursday.

One player who won't, however, is Erik Christensen, who will be a healthy scratch for the first time since he was acquired from the New York Rangers on Feb. 3. Christensen does not have a point in 12 games with Minnesota, and he is a minus-5 in his last three games.

"It's one thing to not be getting goals and to not be getting assists, but if the puck is going in (our) net when you're on the ice, then it doesn't add up," Yeo said. "Some guys can go out and they might not score a goal but they can still be effective, they can still bring momentum or they can still be solid defensively. That's what we have to make sure of with Erik is the next time you're in the lineup, you might score or you might not, but just make sure you play a good game."

Here's how the Wild are expected to look like tonight:

Dany Heatley - Kyle Brodziak - Nick Palmieri
Devin Setoguchi - Matt Cullen - Cal Clutterbuck
Matt Kassian - Darroll Powe - Nick Johnson
Stephane Veilleux - Warren Peters - Jed Ortmeyer

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon
Justin Falk - Tom Gilbert
Nate Prosser - Kurtis Foster

Niklas Backstrom will start in goal, with Josh Harding the backup.
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 5:05 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Ribeiro happy to be back in Montreal

MONTREAL -- It's been a long time coming for Mike Ribeiro.

The Dallas Stars center will play his first regular-season game in his hometown since he was traded away in 2006 by the Montreal Canadiens, and he can't wait.

"I'm excited to see the atmosphere in the building again," Ribeiro said Tuesday morning. "Maybe they forgot me, it's been so long."

Ribeiro was injured the only other time the Stars played at Bell Centre since he was traded for defenseman Janne Niinimaa on Sept. 30, 2006, though he did play in a preseason game here in September.

"It's been six years," said Ribeiro, who turned 32 on Feb. 10. "If I look back on my career there are some things I'd like to do over again, and I think everyone in their lives can look back at things they'd like to improve. But I'm looking to the future, and what's in the past is in the past."

Ribeiro thrived almost immediately upon his arrival in Dallas, while Niinimaa played just 41 games in a Canadiens uniform. The deal widely is panned by Canadiens fans as one of team's the worst in recent years.

"I'm sure they know they made a mistake, but who would have said I would play this way?" Ribeiro said. "I'm coming back to Montreal in front of my friends and people I grew up with, so I'll try to play well and I'll try to score tonight."

He feels the constant pressure the Canadiens are under from their fans and the media to produce a winner led to him being traded, and it affects the franchise's ability to wait for their young players to reach their full potential.

"You have to be patient with the young guys, because you get better as you grow and as you learn the game," he said. "A lot of times in Montreal you have to win now and a lot of times kids are not ready to win now, so you get impatient and trade them -- like in my situation -- a little too quickly."

Ribeiro is far from the only former Canadiens player in town with the Stars. He’s joined by his linemate, right wing Michael Ryder, and defensemen Stephane Robidas and Sheldon Souray, who was disappointed he won't be able to suit up as he recovers from a foot injury.

The game also will be special for first-year Stars coach Glen Gulutzan, who grew up a Canadiens fan in Hudson Bay, Sask., and wore the No. 23 jersey of Bob Gainey to school as a kid.

The game is so special he insisted his father, Gene, make the trip to Montreal to attend.

"I've had a few pinchable moments, and this was certainly one of them when we played our exhibition game here," Gulutzan said. "It's not the typical exhibition game with 20-some thousand people in the stands. It's special to come back to Canada, but in Montreal it's a little extra special. It's a little surreal at times."

While players always get up for games against their former teams, Gulutzan feels the Canadiens have a home-ice disadvantage because it's pretty difficult for any player not to get excited to play a game in Montreal.

"You get amped up to play here because it's exciting," Gulutzan said. "It's the talk of the town and the players feel that vibe. I'm sure it's not easy for the home team here because other teams are gunned up and ready."

That certainly will be the case for Gulutzan's top center.
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 3:04 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Benn out, tired Eriksson in for Stars

MONTREAL -- The Dallas Stars will be missing All-Star Jamie Benn for a third straight game when they face the Montreal Canadiens tonight. And while star forward Loui Eriksson will play, it's likely he'll be a pretty tired.

Eriksson was flying to Montreal from Dallas on Tuesday to re-join the team after his wife gave birth to the couple's second daughter on Monday morning, just as the team's flight here was leaving.

As for Benn, he took the ice briefly after his teammates were finished with the morning skate, but the cut on his left leg is not healed enough for him to return.

"It's the equivalent of getting stabbed in the leg," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "He wants to play (Thursday) in Chicago. He's getting better every day, so that's the encouraging part."

Another Dallas player looking to make a return Thursday is defenseman Sheldon Souray, who has been out since Feb. 9 with a foot injury.

Souray took a regular turn with the Stars at their morning skate, but it was just his second time practicing with the team and his conditioning is not where it needs to be to face the Canadiens.

"I was pushing for this game," Souray, who spent six seasons with the Canadiens, said.

For the Canadiens, rookie forward Louis Leblanc will return to the lineup after missing the last game with the flu, while Erik Cole will be available even though he sat out Monday's practice with a leg injury.

The goaltending matchup is Kari Lehtonen for the Stars against Montreal's Carey Price, who will start his ninth game in a row.

Here are the expected lineups for tonight:

STARS
Loui Eriksson - Mike Ribeiro - Michael Ryder
Steve Ott - Tom Wandell - Tomas Vincour
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Ryan Garbutt - Jake Dowell - Adam Burish

Alex Goligoski - Stephane Robidas
Adam Pardy - Philip Larsen
Mark Fistric - Trevor Daley

Kari Lehtonen will start in net, with Richard Bachman backing him up.

CANADIENS
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Mathieu Darche - Tomas Plekanec - Rene Bourque
Ryan White - Scott Gomez - Andrei Kostitsyn
Louis Leblanc - Lars Eller
 
Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin - Raphael Diaz
Tomas Kaberle - Chris Campoli
Yannick Weber

Carey Price will start in net, with Peter Budaj the backup.
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POSTED ON Sunday, 02.19.2012 / 12:31 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

DeBoer not taking postseason for granted

MONTREAL -- After three seasons of missing the playoffs as head coach of the Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils bench boss Peter DeBoer is likely sincere when he says his club's incredible run since the All-Star break has not necessarily allowed him to sleep much better at night.

"I'm never comfortable this time of year. You're a bad weekend away from being in a dogfight for eighth," DeBoer said Sunday morning. "You're never comfortable until you're in."

In that case, the Devils opponents Sunday evening are not the least bit comfortable, seeing as the Montreal Canadiens sit six points out of the final playoff spot, with four teams to leapfrog in order to get there.

The Habs have put together a 5-1-1 stretch to remain on the periphery of the playoff hunt, and DeBoer is cognizant of the effect the trade of defenseman Hal Gill to the Nashville Predators on Friday can have on a team's attitude.

"We're going to see a desperate team," DeBoer said. "I think they've been playing well, I've watched the last few games on tape. They always give us a hard time, they have a lot of speed, a lot of skill. You never know how a team's going to react once you begin making trades or selling off guys. I've been on that end of that, and a lot of times you get a positive reaction because other guys are getting an opportunity. So we have to be prepared for that."

The Devils have been on a tremendous run since the All-Star break with a 7-1-1 record, and DeBoer gives all the credit for that to his leadership group of goaltender Martin Brodeur and forwards Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias.

Brodeur has a 6-0-1 record with a .936 save percentage and 1.82 goals against average since the break, while Kovalchuk has 17 points, Parise has 10 points and Elias has 8 points in those nine games.

"We came out of the All-Star break and realized as a group that we had to find another level. It started with our best players. Marty Brodeur's come back and been outstanding, Kovalchuk, Parise, Elias, all those guys have found another level that we knew they had. It's translated into wins," DeBoer said. "Those guys realized that we needed a push here in order to get in. We went into the All-Star break sitting tied for eighth with a tough stretch of games coming out of it. We knew that the rubber was kind of hitting the road, so to speak, and we needed to find another level. Those guys have done that."

The Devils have done this largely without rookie defenseman Adam Larsson, who has been out with a bruised back since taking a big hit from Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban and slamming hard into the boards in New Jersey on Feb. 2. In addition to that, Henrik Tallinder has been out since Jan. 17 with a leg injury, and it appears another defenseman will also be missing Sunday as Kurtis Foster will likely be replaced by minor league call-up Peter Harrold.

In light of this, DeBoer says Brodeur's play of late has been more vital than ever.

"We need him to be our best player on a lot of nights, especially with some of the injuries on defense we've been dealing with," he said. "He's been great."

Brodeur will be playing his final game of the season in his hometown, where he has a career record of 18-8-1 with a 1.55 GAA, .944 save percentage and five shutouts.

Carey Price will get the start in goal for the Canadiens, who did not skate Sunday morning.

Here are the expected lineups for Sunday night's game.

DEVILS


Zach PariseAdam HenriqueIlya Kovalchuk
Petr SykoraPatrik EliasDavid Clarkson
Alexei PonikarovskyDainius ZubrusSteve Bernier
Eric BoultonJacob JosefsonNick Palmieri

Andy GreeneMark Fayne
Bryce SalvadorAnton Volchenkov
Matt TaorminaPeter Harrold

CANADIENS

Max PaciorettyDavid DesharnaisErik Cole
Mathieu DarcheTomas PlekanecRene Bourque
Ryan WhiteScott GomezAndrei Kostitsyn
Louis LeblancLars Eller

Josh GorgesP.K. Subban
Alexei EmelinRaphael Diaz
Tomas KaberleChris Campoli

Yannick Weber
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Playing for my favorite team growing up, I've probably scored that goal a million times in my driveway. It feels good to actually do it in real life.

— Dale Weise, who grew up a Canadiens fan, on scoring the overtime winner in Montreal's 5-4 victory against Tampa Bay in Game 1