Canadiens @ Thrashers – Monday December 21 @ 7:00 p.m.
The Canadiens head out to Atlanta to take on a familiar foe in the Thrashers on Monday night, having already faced Ilya Kovalchuk and Co. three times this season. Each game between the two teams has been decided by one goal, with the Canadiens dropping one in a shootout and winning the other two, including a nail-biter in overtime.
The Habs’ blue-liners will be keeping a close eye on Kovalchuk, who is currently among the Top 10 in the NHL in scoring. In just 27 games so far, the Russian sniper has an impressive 19 goals to his credit, including the OT-winner over the Canadiens in their last meeting, on December 12. Lighting the lamp is nothing new to Michael Cammalleri, who isn’t far behind the “other” Kovy with 18 goals of his own already in the books.
Canadiens @ Hurricanes – Wednesday December 23 @ 7:00 p.m.
The Hurricanes host the Canadiens at the RBC Center for the second time this season. In their last meeting, on November 17, stellar goaltending from both squads pushed the game to the limit, with the Habs ultimately coming out on top in the shootout.
The ‘Canes can’t wait to put 2009 behind them, with the 2006 Cup champs and current Eastern Conference cellar-dwellers having accumulated a scant 24 points to date. That’s not to say that the Carolina lineup is without firepower as the always dangerous Eric Staal has been on a tear of late with 11 points over his last nine games.
Canadiens vs Maple Leafs – Saturday December 26 @ 7:00 p.m.
There will still be ripped wrapping paper strewn across carpets everywhere when the Habs and Maple Leafs square off on Boxing Day in Toronto. While the Canadiens have had the upper hand in two of the three meetings so far this season, the Leafs are suddenly breathing down the necks of their longtime rivals in the standings.
Coming off a shutout loss to Toronto in their last encounter, Jacques Martin’s charges will be looking to score early and often with Andrei Markov back in the lineup after suffering his injury against the Leafs on opening night in October.
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
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