- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate on Saturday at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard ahead of their tilt against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre.
- All players were present and accounted for at the morning skate, except for Brandon Prust and P.K. Subban.
- After being the victim of a dangerous hit in Thursday night’s contest against the Anaheim Ducks and staying off the ice on Friday, Max Pacioretty took part in the morning skate alongside his teammates. While his playing status will be determined following the pre-game warm-up, the Canadiens’ leading scorer explained that the injury looked far worse than it actually was.
“It was very minor. I feel really good right now. I think maybe people heard the word “hospital” and they assumed the worst,” offered Pacioretty, who is no stranger to playing through injuries and pain. “Whenever someone gets injured, they have to get tests. At that time of night, the only thing open is the hospital. I don’t want it to be blown out of proportion. I feel really good. I’ve had this happen to me before. It’s actually the same thing as what happened in Carolina last year.”
As for Pacioretty’s thoughts on the hit itself, the 26-year-old elected to take the high road on Saturday morning, focusing instead on making certain he’d be good to go against the Sens.
“Two days removed from the incident, I don’t think it does any good by talking to it. I trust peoples’ intentions in this league, so I’m not going to put anyone down,” mentioned Pacioretty, referencing Anaheim Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner. “At the end of the day, I’m just worried about trying to feel as good as I can. Hopefully I’ll be able to play and contribute.”
- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that forward Sven Andrighetto will be in the lineup against Ottawa on Saturday night. Andrighetto was recalled from the Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday evening. He boasts two goals and three points in four games with the Canadiens this season.
- Therrien also confirmed that defenseman Mike Weaver has received the green light to play. Weaver hasn’t suited up since sustaining a concussion on December 6 in Dallas. There will be no lineup changes, however, on the Canadiens’ blue line on Saturday night.
- Lars Eller returns to active duty on Saturday night after being sidelined with an upper-body injury sustained on December 5 in Chicago. He will center a line with David Desharnais and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau.
“One thing we always want to make sure of when players come back from injury is that they’re 100 percent healthy. Lars is 100 percent. There’s no setback,” confirmed Therrien, who was deprived of Eller’s services for the last five games. “I’m not expecting him to change his game. We expect that he’s going to be the same player.”
The Canadiens’ bench boss shared similar expectations for Desharnais, who will be playing wing for the first time in years on Saturday night.
“It doesn’t change his game at all. Honestly, I know some people think there’s some controversy regarding that. There is none. We just moved him about 15 feet in the defensive zone. The rest of the game, you just play it,” stressed Therrien. “When you go into the offensive zone, you play the game. Whenever you’re a centerman or a left-winger, if you’re in the slot, you shoot the puck. We’re not the only team that’s capable of doing that. You look at Pittsburgh and that time [Evgeni] Malkin was playing right wing. It’s not a big deal.”
- The Canadiens and the Senators will clash for the first time this season on Saturday night. Last year, three of the five matchups between the two teams were decided in overtime, the majority of which were high-scoring, spirited affairs. Brendan Gallagher doesn’t expect anything different in the Habs’ final home game of the calendar year.
“They’ve gone through a lot with the coaching change. They’ve been playing really well since that happened. They’re a team that we know really well from going up against them in the playoffs,” offered Gallagher, whose squad will go up against a Senators contingent that has rattled off two straight wins, including a 6-2 victory over the Ducks on Friday night in Ottawa. “There are a lot of the same guys over there, so any time we play them we know that there’s plenty of intensity and that sense of rivalry.”
- The Senators are 3-1-1 since Dave Cameron took over the head coaching duties on December 8.
- Carey Price will make his 28th start of the season for the Canadiens. Price boasts a 16-6-4 record, a 2.35 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in 28 career appearances against Ottawa. Robin Lehner will be between the pipes for Ottawa.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game can be seen on TVA and CITY TV.
Game Preview: Senators @ Canadiens
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