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Game Day – Senators – March 19

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa on Saturday morning in preparation for their game against the Senators. Following the contest, Michel Therrien’s troops will return home to Montreal for a matchup against the Calgary Flames on Sunday night at the Bell Centre.

- After the on-ice session, head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Stefan Matteau would be back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night. Matteau will play in place of Jacob De La Rose.

“We want to give all of our young players chances to show us what they’re capable of doing,” said Therrien, whose squad will play their 72nd game of the regular season on Saturday night. “When it’s all over, we want to have some answers. Stefan needs to play with the intensity players have to have in order to be successful.”

- In their most recent outing, the Canadiens were involved in an emotionally charged affair against the Sabres in which penalty minutes aplenty were handed out as both teams tried to impose themselves physically. A similar scenario could easily repeat itself on Saturday night given the recent history between the Canadiens and Senators, particularly during postseason play.

“It’s up there [among our rivalries]. I think now it’s the most physical. The last two playoff series we played against each other were very physical. It’s very entertaining hockey, and I think that carried over to the regular season and even in pre-season. I can remember some heated battles as well,” shared captain Max Pacioretty, who will look to stretch his current points streak to seven games on Saturday night. “It’s always fun for us to come here and play against a team that doesn’t like us and we don’t like them. These are the types of games that we enjoy playing, especially on Saturday night.”

Rookie Michael McCarron will get his first taste of the rivalry that seems to be intensifying with every meeting whether in Ottawa or Montreal.

“It’s a big rivalry between these two teams. It’s going to be my first experience with it and I’m super excited,” shared McCarron, who will surely be counted upon to throw his weight around on Saturday night, especially if things get out of hand at any point in time. “I like playing in heated battles. It’ll be a good game tonight.”

And, it’s no secret what the Canadiens will have to do in order to give themselves a chance to best the Senators on their home turf.

“There was some good character in that Buffalo game. Guys stuck up for each other. We need to play with that team mentality,” stressed Pacioretty. “Hopefully, that will carry over to tonight.”

- Like McCarron, Darren Dietz is one of many young guns being featured in the lineup these days. With fellow rearguard Mark Barberio on the sidelines, Dietz returns to active duty after coming back up from St. John's as an emergency recall on Thursday.

“He’s a young defenseman who’s following the right steps. We want him to move the puck well, play solid in one-on-one situations and just play the right way,” explained Therrien, who has featured the 22-year-old Medicine Hat, AB native in two games so far this season. “At the Junior level, he was able to bring some offensive production, too, so we have to give him some chances to chip in on offense at the professional level as well.”

- Ben Scrivens will make his second straight start for the Canadiens, while the Senators will counter with Andrew Hammond between the pipes. For his part, Mike Condon will get the call on Sunday.

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on Rogers Sportsnet and TVA Sports.

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