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At the Rink: Canadiens at Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- Montreal Canadiens right wing PA Parenteau will return to the lineup Wednesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets with no restrictions.

"Tonight's 100 percent for me with the power play and everything," he said.

Parenteau missed three games because of an upper-body injury and the Canadiens (26-12-3) lost the past two.

"It's a good feeling to get back," Parenteau said after practicing Wednesday morning. "You miss the game and you miss being with your teammates. I'm feeling pretty good on the ice. I'll know more when the game starts and the pace picks up."

Parenteau has six goals and nine assists in 38 games. He will play with new linemates Brandon Prust and Alex Galchenyuk.

The Blue Jackets (18-19-3) are trying to stay in the Eastern Conference race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They are 13 points out of a wild-card spot and have lost two straight, 5-2 losses at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday and at home against the New York Islanders on Saturday.

"Our last two games, the way we played wasn't good. That's disappointing," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "It didn't look like we had our legs."

Center Ryan Johansen agreed the Blue Jackets got away from their game.

"It's a combination of the little things where we need to be sharper in our own zone and a little more focused in the right spots," he said. "We didn't have that those two games.

"Maybe that's because of the long road trip and the back-to-back. We were a little fatigued. We've had three days off now. There should be no excuses."

After a December record of 10-1-1, the Blue Jackets are 2-3-0 in January and will have to contend with Montreal's quickness.

"We weren't ready against the Islanders the first period," Richards said. "We weren't ready for their speed. It was evident first few shifts of the game and this is another team that can skate."

The Canadiens lost two straight at home after a 5-0-0 road trip. They are 13-7-1 on the road.

"We try to keep our game simple," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "We're managing the puck really well on the road. We're not turning the puck over. [Goaltender] Carey Price gives us a chance to win every night on the road. That's always a plus."

Here are the projected lineups:


Max Pacioretty - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher

David Desharnais - Lars Eller - Dale Weise

Brandon Prust - Alex Galchenyuk - PA Parenteau

Michael BournivalManny MalhotraJiri Sekac

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Nathan Beaulieu - Sergei Gonchar

Tom GilbertAlexei Emelin

Carey Price

Dustin Tokarski

Scratched: Christian Thomas, Mike Weaver

Injured: none


Scott Hartnell - Ryan Johansen - Nick Foligno

Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Sean Collins - Alexander Wennberg - Jeremy Morin

Corey Tropp - Mark Letestu - Jared Boll

Jack Johnson - David Savard

Kevin Connauton - James Wisniewski

Cody Goloubef - Fedor Tyutin

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Corey Tropp, Dalton Prout, Jordan Leopold

Injured: Artem Anisimov (torn triceps), Brian Gibbons (knee), Nathan Horton (back), Boone Jenner (back), Ryan Murray (knee), Jack Skille (lower body)

Status report: Goloubef returns to the lineup for Prout, the only change expected for the Blue Jackets. Goloubef sat against the Islanders after playing three straight games.

Who's hot: Johansen has matched his season and career highs with a 10-game point streak that includes six goals and six assists. "I had a pretty good start. I kind of slowed down before Christmas," he said. "I feel like I'm starting to find my game offensively and production-wise the last couple of weeks." … The Canadiens are 9-2-1 since Dec. 6.

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