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Canadiens after strong start against Flyers

by Sean Farrell

FLYERS (7-6-2) at CANADIENS (12-4-1)

TV: NHLN-US, TVA SPORTS, SN, CSN-PH

BROSSARD, Quebec -- The Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers face each other Saturday at Bell Centre on opposite ends of back-to-back games.

Montreal, which extended its winning streak to four Thursday with a 5-1 victory against the Boston Bruins, begins a stretch of eight games in 13 days by hosting Philadelphia before playing at the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.

"I personally do enjoy the back-to-backs, especially on the weekend," Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty said after the morning skate at the Canadiens' suburban practice facility. "You know, we've had success but we've been getting better every game as a team and really starting to put together those 60-minute games, so it's nice to bunch up a couple of games in a row here and hopefully we can show our best for all of them."

The Flyers' three-game winning streak ended Friday with a 4-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in their first game in six days.

On Oct. 11, Montreal erased a 3-0 deficit in the third period in a 4-3 shootout win at Philadelphia. The Canadiens have allowed the first goal in 12 of 17 games and Pacioretty is aware of the need for a good start against the Flyers.

"It's obviously huge and we know that they played [Friday] night, and we've got to try and do what we can to jump on them early," Pacioretty said. "Obviously it's a different game when we play in their building. A lot of teams struggle to dig themselves out of holes in our building so we've got to find a way to jump on them early and hopefully take away some of their confidence that they have, especially on the power play and special teams right now."

Philadelphia's power play went 2-for-3 Friday. The Flyers are 13-for-52 this season, a 25 percent success rate that ranks fourth in the NHL, but they have struggled on the road with two goals in 20 opportunities.

Montreal scored its first power-play goal in more than 10 games Thursday, ending an 0-for-27 drought. The Canadiens hope to get their power play going against a Philadelphia penalty-killing unit that ranks last in the League on the road with eight goals allowed in 20 shorthanded situations (60 percent).

Newcomer Sergei Gonchar was paired with fellow Russian defenseman Andrei Markov, each left-handed shooters, on one of Montreal's power-play units. The points on the Canadiens' other power-play pairing, P.K. Subban and Tom Gilbert, are right-handed shooters.

"That's good," Gilbert said. "I think we had a lot of great looks. Again, it's nice to finally get a power-play goal last game and I think there are more to come. We've just got to keep sticking with it. We had great chances. We had a couple of open nets and we're doing the right things. The puck's by the net and we've got bodies there, and it'll come. We've just got to keep sticking with it."

Here are the projected lineups:

FLYERS

Wayne Simmonds - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

R.J. Umberger - Vincent Lecavalier - Jason Akeson

Brayden Schenn - Sean Couturier - Matt Read

Zac Rinaldo - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Chris VandeVelde

Nicklas Grossmann - Mark Streit

Michael Del Zotto - Nick Schultz

Braydon Coburn - Carlo Colaiacovo

Ray Emery

Steve Mason

Scratched: Blair Jones

Injured: Kimmo Timonen (blood clots), Andrew MacDonald (lower body), Michael Raffl (lower body), Luke Schenn (upper body)

CANADIENS

Max PaciorettyDavid DesharnaisPierre-Alexandre Parenteau

Alex GalchenyukTomas PlekanecBrendan Gallagher

Brandon PrustLars EllerJiri Sekac

Nathan BeaulieuManny MalhotraDale Weise

Andrei MarkovP.K. Subban

Alexei EmelinMike Weaver

Sergei GoncharTom Gilbert

Carey Price

Dustin Tokarski

Scratched: Drayson Bowman

Injured: Michael Bournival (shoulder)

Status report: Emery will start Saturday. Mason stopped 34 of 38 shots in his fifth straight start. Montreal coach Michel Therrien may dress seven defensemen for a second game in a row. Beaulieu played left wing for the first time Thursday and also rotated in on defense in 6:43 of ice time, including setting up Sekac's power-play goal. Tokarski will make his fourth start Sunday.

Who's hot: Voracek had a goal and an assist Friday to extend his points streak to nine games (five goals, 12 assists). It was his eighth multipoint game of the season. Giroux and Brayden Schenn have four-game point streaks. Eller has scored the game-winning goal in three straight games.

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