MONTREAL -- After serving the final game of his suspension for an elbow to Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals on Saturday, newly acquired left wing Rene Bourque will make his debut with the Montreal Canadiens tonight against the New York Rangers.
Coach Randy Cunneyworth said Bourque will line up on the left of Tomas Plekanec, with Michael Blunden on the opposite wing. It could very well be the biggest linemates Plekanec has had his whole career.
Bourque watched from the press box as his new teammates dropped a 3-2 shootout to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, and Cunneyworth says he couldn't be more excited to try on his new uniform.
"What we're looking at is a guy who champing at the bit to get going," Cunneyworth said.
Bourque will slide into a spot filled Saturday by Scott Gomez in his first game back from a groin injury that cost him 21 games. Cunneyworth said Gomez will see some time at center on the fourth line in Sunday's game after playing exclusively on the wing with Plekanec on Saturday.
Peter Budaj will get just his sixth start in goal for the Canadiens, and his first since Dec. 21 when he allowed four goals in a 5-1 loss in Chicago. Cunneyworth said he had no problem relying on a cold goaltender against a team as formidable as the Rangers, who enter the night first in the overall standings.
"We have the utmost confidence in both our goaltenders," he said, adding he has leaned a bit too heavily on Carey Price of late.
Both teams played Saturday night, with the Rangers winning 3-0 in Toronto, a game coach John Tortorella felt his team "defended as well as we have all year."
Martin Biron got the shutout in that game, so Henrik Lundqvist will get the start Sunday in a building that has historically not been kind to him. Lundqvist has a career mark of 4-4-2 with a 3.86 GAA and .877 save percentage in 11 career starts in Montreal.
Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky will miss his third straight game with a shoulder injury.
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We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.