On the docket this week, the Habs take on the Capitals, Lightning and Panthers to cap off their holiday marathon, seven-game road trip before welcoming the Thrashers to the Bell Centre on Sunday afternoon.
Canadiens @ Capitals – Tuesday, December 28 @ 7:00 p.m.
Redemption will be on the minds of the Capitals and their fans on Tuesday night with the Canadiens in town for the first time since eliminating last year’s President’s Trophy winners in the first round of the playoffs last spring.
Michael Cammalleri led the way against the Caps in the seven-game postseason showdown, racking up 10 points, including five of his NHL-leading 13 goals against Washington. At the other end of the ice, as always, the Habs will look to slow down Capitals snipers Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin, all of whom are currently in the Top 20 in league scoring. Canadiens @ Lightning – Thursday, December 30 @ 7:30 p.m.
The Habs will be the ones looking for revenge on Thursday night, paying a visit to Tampa for the first time since dropping their home opener to the Lightning on October 13. Maxim Lapierre, Tomas Plekanec
and Andrei Kostitsyn all scored for the Canadiens in the outing, but Ryan Malone was the difference-maker, scoring the OT-winner five minutes into the extra frame. Scott Gomez
will be looking to add to the team-high 36 points he’s compiled against the Bolts through 41 career games, followed by injured rearguard Andrei Markov
and his 21 career points against Tampa. Canadiens @ Panthers – Friday, December 31 @ 5:00 p.m.
The Habs close out their road trip and ring in the New Year in Sunrise, FL for an early evening game against the struggling Panthers. Despite the Panthers’ current rank in the standings, the Sunshine State has not been kind to the Canadiens in the past, with the team going 13-16-3 in 32 lifetime games in Florida.
Special teams may prove to be the difference yet again, with the Canadiens’ league-leading penalty killers matched-up against the NHL’s worst power play. With just 11 power play goals on 115 opportunities, the Panthers own just a 9.6% efficiency rating so far this year, compared to the Habs’ 87,5%
PK rating to date. Canadiens vs Thrashers – Sunday, January 2 @ 1:00 p.m.
In their only meeting between the two teams so far this season, the Thrashers shut out the Canadiens 3-0 in the Peach State on November 26. Rich Peverley scored two goals in the contest, while Montreal netminder Alex Auld earned his first loss as a Hab despite making 44 saves on the night.
The Montreal faithful will be counting on some timely offense from Tomas Plekanec
in the team’s first game of 2011 at the Bell Centre, after seeing the Czech center lead the way with six points in four games against the Thrashers last year. Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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