The tough road tests continue for the Habs this week as they wrap up their season series with the Capitals. While Montreal has struggled away from the Bell Centre in 2009, Washington has been tough to top at home all season long, posting a 22-4-1 record. That’s propelled them to a healthy 13-point lead atop the Southeast Division and a win behind the Devils for second place in the East.Tomas Plekanec
will be eligible to return to the Canadiens’ lineup after serving a two-game suspension for a tripping incident against the Oilers last week. While the season hasn’t come close to what Plekanec had hoped for, he might be able to find some solace in facing the Capitals; Washington has been one of his favorite victims over the course of his career, producing 13 points in 15 games.
Caps defenseman Mike Green has been red-hot of late. The 23-year-old set an NHL record over the weekend when he scored in an eighth consecutive game, besting Boston’s Mike O’Connell’s previous benchmark of seven set back in 1984. Canadiens @ Penguins – Thursday, Feb. 19 @ 7 PM
If there were any team wanting history to repeat itself, it would likely be the Penguins. After all, 2008-09 is far from how the club saw its season playing out after reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2007-08. With 25 games left on their calendar, Pittsburgh sits fourth in the Atlantic Division, 10th place in the Eastern Conference and five points out of the final playoff berth, heading into their Monday afternoon tilt against the Islanders.
Not even the return of blueline stalwart Sergei Gonchar could help turn Pittsburgh’s fortunes around on the weekend. A 2-1 third period lead ultimately resulted in a 6-2 loss and the firing of Michel Therrien. He’s been replaced on an interim basis by Dan Bylsma, head coach of their AHL squad.
The Canadiens have taken both meetings thus far, with Andrei Kostitsyn notching four goals in the two games.
Evgeni Malkin continues to lead the way offensively in Steeltown, amassing a league-leading 81 points and a team-best plus-16.Canadiens vs. Senators – Saturday, Feb. 21 @ 3 PM
When February opened its doors, the Senators were mired in a season-long slump, plagued by questions that didn’t seem to have any answers. That cost Craig Hartsburg his in the nation’s capital and saw Cory Clouston get called up from the club’s AHL affiliate to take the reins.
While the Senators dropped their first matchup under their new bench boss, they’ve been on a roll ever since, winning four straight and earning a point in each of their last five outings. Though they’ve found their legs of late, the Sens continue to languish at the bottom of the standings, both in the East and the league overall.
After years of struggling against their division rival, the winds of change are now blowing favorably in the Canadiens’ direction. The Habs have taken five straight from the Senators, dating back to last season. Ottawa will likely be hoping that Saturday’s contest doesn’t make it to a shootout; the club hasn’t won the ultimate tiebreaker on the road since November 4, 2007.Heather Engel is a writer for canadiens.comVote for the play of the week