KANATA - In a game in which the intensity level is expected to reach the max, the Canadiens will be looking to put a stop to their eight-game losing slide.
It's perhaps the perfect time for the Habs to be facing their rivals down the 417. The Senators are also going through a rough patch, as they haven't won in six games. DJ Smith's troops fell 3-2 in a shootout on Friday night at Little Caesars Arena against the Detroit Red Wings.
Head coach Claude Julien will be able to count on the return of forward Matthew Peca, who hasn't played since December 10 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh due to a knee injury.
The Petawawa, ON native hopes he'll be able to help his squad get back on track on Saturday night at the Canadian Tire Centre.
"I was playing well in Laval and when I got back here, too, but I only played four games. It wasn't exactly the best time for me to get hurt, but I'm back now and I want to help the team win some games," mentioned Peca, who picked up three goals for 11 points in 18 games with the AHL's Laval Rocket before his recall. "My knee is doing well. I didn't want to come back until I was 100%."
Video: Matthew Peca on his return to the lineup
The Tampa Bay Lightning's seventh-round pick (201st overall) in 2011 got the chance to watch his team's performances from up close.
Over their current eight-game losing skid, the Habs lost six games by a one-goal margin. According to Peca, it's clear Montreal has to find a way to hit the back of the net more often.
"We're working hard and we're doing the little things to help us win. But for one reason or another, we're not scoring enough goals for us to win," expressed Peca on his team's haul of 10 goals over its past six games. "So we have to work hard and play our system for 60 minutes."
Gallagher out against the Senators
Montreal will have to do without the services of a key member of the team on Saturday night in Kanata, as forward Brendan Gallagher did not make the trip because he was suffering from headaches.
The right winger will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.
"I don't have any update on his health status. He's at home. There hasn't been any change since we spoke about it yesterday," Julien said during his pregame media availability.
Video: Claude Julien's pregame press conference in Ottawa
Gallagher's teammates recognize that the situation must be a frustrating one for the fiery forward. Still, his health comes first.
"You never like to see someone get injured, especially, of course, with a concussion. I think he needs to take his time. It's better if he does take his time instead of rushing things," outlined defenseman Victor Mete. "With a concussion, it's your brain, so you have to be extra cautious. You have to trust the doctors and whichever medical people are dealing with it, and hopefully he gets back soon."
Visit from some old friends
There were some attentive fans taking in the optional skate on Saturday at the Canadian Tire Centre.
Of course, that would be Nick Suzuki's former Junior team, the OHL's Owen Sound Attack, who were in the stands for the practice and will also be attending the game in the evening.
Following the skate, the rookie explained the role that Owen Sound played in his development.
"Owen Sound shaped me into who I am today. I got there at 16. All the coaches and players helped me grow as a player through the first years of Junior," explained Suzuki, who has eight goals for 26 points this season. "It was really sad leaving there. I had opportunities to go on playoff runs there, but it just never happened. It was sad leaving there, but going onto Guelph was good."
Suzuki and the Canadiens face off against the Senators starting at 7:00 p.m. at the Canadian Tire Centre.