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Canadiens-Capitals Preview @NHL

A loss heading into the Christmas break did little to spoil the Montreal Canadiens' holiday.

Montreal (21-9-5) returns to the ice at the Verizon Center on Wednesday to meet the Washington Capitals (16-13-7).

The Canadiens' five-game winning streak ended with a 4-2 loss to Boston on Saturday. With the score tied at 2 early in the third period, Montreal goaltender Cristobal Huet gave up goals to lightly regarded Milan Jurcina and Stanislav Chistov in a 1:11 span.

"Those are the games that sometimes happen," Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. "We've had a few of those on our side."

Huet went 3-1-0 with a 2.24 goals-against average against the Capitals last season, and the French-born goaltender went 18-11-4 with seven shutouts and a 2.20 GAA in just 36 games in 2005-06.

In 24 games so far this season, he's 14-4-3 with two shutouts and a 2.36 GAA. The Canadiens have given up 97 goals, the second fewest in the Eastern Conference behind New Jersey (89).

Michael Ryder extended his points streak to a season-high four games with his 10th goal for Montreal. He has two goals and four assists during his run. Ryder's goal also was Montreal's league-leading 11th short-handed tally, four short of the franchise record set in 1995-96.

The Capitals faced Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo on Tuesday - and played as if they were still on vacation.

Brent Johnson allowed four goals - two by Chris Drury - in a 5:39 stretch of the first period before being replaced by Olaf Kolzig, who was beaten for two goals in a 67-second span in a 6-3 loss.

Alex Ovechkin scored his league-leading 25th goal in the second period, but admitted he was impressed by Sabres' outburst.

"They shoot, they score. They shoot, they score." Ovechkin said. "It was like some magic."

Ovechkin has points in 10 of 11 games in December, totaling nine goals and 12 assists. He has 48 points, tying him with Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier for fourth in the league behind Atlanta's Marian Hossa, Jaromir Jagr of the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, who leads the league with 55.

Last season en route to winning the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie, Ovechkin had two goals and two assists in four games against the Canadiens. Both goals came on home ice.

Montreal and Washington split four games in 2005-06, but the Caps will be trying to avoid a third straight loss to the Canadiens.

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