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Canadiens-Blackhawks Preview

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In five seasons with the Ottawa Senators, it was easy for Martin Havlat to be overlooked among talented players including Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley.

Through five games, it's getting harder to overlook what Havlat has done for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Havlat leads the Blackhawks when they play the Montreal Canadiens at the United Center on Wednesday in the first matchup between two of the Original Six teams in Chicago in more than 4 1/2 years.

Chicago (3-2-0) has lost three straight meetings with Montreal and five of the last six. But it may reverse that trend behind the surging Havlat, who's scored five goals - all on the power play - in his career versus the Canadiens.

Havlat has tallied at least one point in each game for the Blackhawks this season, totaling six goals and a league-leading 12 points. While it's still early, no Blackhawks player has led the league in scoring since Stan Mikita had 40 goals and 87 points in 1967-68.

Last season, when he was limited to just 18 regular-season games after surgery to repair a dislocated right shoulder, Havlat managed nine goals and 16 points.

He assisted on two power-play goals in the final minute of the first period Tuesday during a 5-3 win over Colorado. Chicago, which has alternated wins and losses in its first five games, also got two goals from Martin Lapointe and a goal and assist each from Radim Vrbata and Lasse Kukkonen.

"Marty had a great game for us," Havlat said of Lapointe, who scored the game-winning goal 5:26 into the third period. "That was a great goal."

In 2005-06, the Blackhawks didn't record their fourth win until the 13th game of the season. They managed just 26 victories all season and missed the playoffs for the seventh time in eight seasons since 1997-98.

Montreal is making its first visit to Chicago since posting a 3-2 win on Feb. 27, 2002, and is coming off its third win in four games overall. Radek Bonk scored his first two goals of the season, and the Canadiens (3-0-2) added three power-play scores in a 5-4 win over Calgary on Tuesday night.

"That's hardly what the scouting report would have dictated, a back-and-forth affair, nine goals, lots of action," said Montreal's Mike Johnson, who had two assists.

Defenseman Sheldon Souray had two power-play goals and an assist, but it was Alexei Kovalev's goal with the man advantage late in the second period that snapped a 4-4 tie. Kovalev has 10 career hat tricks, but hasn't recorded one since Jan. 25, 2003, in a 5-3 win over Chicago while with Pittsburgh.

After watching Cristobal Huet struggle again while earning his first win in three starts, Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau will turn to David Aebischer to start in goal. Aebischer is 2-0 with a 1.44 goals-against average this season after having defeated Toronto and Philadelphia on the road.

He is 5-2 with a tie and a 1.52 GAA in nine career games, including eight starts, versus Chicago.

The Canadiens are not expected to have right wing Aaron Downey in the lineup after he was hospitalized with a severe concussion following an open-ice hit from Calgary defenseman Robyn Regehr less than four minutes into Tuesday's win.

"He'll stay overnight (at Montreal General Hospital) and we'll see how he feels," Carbonneau said of Downey, who leads the Canadiens with 17 penalty minutes this season.

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