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Game preview: MTL @ CHI

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

CANADIENS (45-27-7) VS. BLACKHAWKS (45-19-15)

On Wednesday night at the United Center, the Habs will face the defending Stanley Cup champions Chicago Blackhawks.

The Habs are on an 8-2 run leading up to the game, having dismissed the Detroit Red Wings 5-3 at the Bell Centre on Saturday. Brian Gionta had two goals for the home team in his 300th game as a Habs while Lars Eller and Jarred Tinordi both had two assists. Carey Price made 34 saves on 37 shots. Alex Galchenyuk, Michael Bournival and Max Pacioretty, with his 39th, also scored for the Canadiens.

The Blackhawks won 4-2 against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. Jeremy Morin snuck a shot past Brian Elliot in the second period before setting up Patrick Sharp to put his team up by one. Marcus Kruger scored the eventual game-winner in the third and Ben Smith iced the game in an empty net. Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Sobotka scored for the Blues. Corey Crawford made 21 saves to earn the win.

The Blackhawks are looking to showcase their offensive depth in the absence of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Both perennial All-Stars will be out until the start of the playoffs. Despite the sizable loss of their scoring contributions, the Hawks remain one of the most explosive teams in the NHL. Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad all have 45 points or more. They are backed up by a mobile defense corps led by Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

The Habs are flying to Chicago without Carey Price, Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin and Douglas Murray. Murray will be serving the final game of his three-game suspension, while the other three players will stay in Montreal to rest up for the remaining two regular season games. Josh Gorges will return to the lineup for Montreal. Peter Budaj is expected to start in goal.

Wednesday’s game will be the second of two season meetings between the Habs and the Hawks. The teams’ last matchup dates back to January 11, when the Canadiens won 2-1 in overtime thanks to a two-goal performance from Andrei Markov.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30PM E.S.T.

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