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Ducks look to right ship against Habs

by Davis Harper
CANADIENS (10-10-4) at DUCKS (6-13-4)


Last 10: Montreal 5-3-2; Anaheim 1-8-1.

Season Series: This is the only meeting between the teams. In their lone matchup in 2010-11, Bobby Ryan's shootout goal was the difference in a 4-3 affair on Jan. 22. Max Pacioretty kept Montreal close with a pair of power-play goals.

Big Story: Two teams in flux match up at Anaheim's Honda Center on Wednesday night. The Ducks – losers of seven straight and 16 of 18 – are diving beak-first to the bottom of the League, while the Habs are losers of three of four and will be without Pacioretty, who begins his three-game suspension for a hit to the head on Pittsburgh's Kris Letang last Saturday.

Team Scope:

Canadiens: While Habs' goal leader Pacioretty will be unavailable, rumors are swirling that defenseman Andrei Markov will make his much-anticipated return to the ice. Markov, an effective special teams player, could replace Pacioretty's grit against an Anaheim team that is allowing 4.22 goals per game over eight of nine at home.

"Everybody knows the impact that he can have on a power play and on a team, so it's always good to see him out there going through the motions and working on the power play -- it's a great boost for our team," defenseman P.K. Subban said.

Habs coach Jacques Martin replaced Pacioretty in the lineup with prospect Louis Leblanc, though it won't be a straight switch.
"We got to try and find some solution to get (offense)," Martin said of his plans to juggle the lines. "We probably need more from our top guys."

Ducks: As they wrap up one of the worst Novembers in Anaheim history (1-8-3), the Ducks will try to get a head start on a December turnaround with Wednesday's game. Coach Randy Carlyle spent Monday's post-holiday practice shuffling lines, replacing Bobby Ryan on the top line – made up of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry – with Ducks newcomer Matt Belesky. Ryan will skate with youngsters Niklas Hagman and Ben Maxwell.

"We've always been trying to formulate a line that can play some minutes in our third slotting, and putting Bobby there should give them an opportunity to be a little more offensive," Carlyle told the Ducks' official website.

"Does it take away from Getzlaf, Perry and Bobby Ryan? Yeah, when you break that up it does. But we can always go back to it, and it gives us an option to move Beleskey up and spread out a little more skill."

Who's Hot: Teemu Selanne leads the Ducks with 22 points –  eight goals, 14 assists – including six over his past five games.

Injury Report: Winger Scott Gomez is doubtful with a groin injury. Markov (right knee), Brendon Nash (shoulder), Ryan White (sports hernia), Chris Campoli (left leg), Jaroslav Spacek (upper body) and Andreas Enqvist (lower body) are all out indefinitely. … Backup goalie Dan Ellis is doubtful with a groin injury. Lubomir Visnovsky (broken finger), George Parros (left eye), Jason Blake (left wrist) and Matt Smaby (right thumb) will all miss at least a month as they recover from respective surgeries.

Stat Pack: Markov's return could provide the bite the Habs' power play has been lacking. For the season, Montreal is converting at a rate 12.8 percent -- good for 27th League-wide – and are 0-for-16 over their recent 1-2-1 stretch.

Puck Drop: "He's a player that has good vision, is good without the puck. Unfortunately he missed training camp this year, but he's a young player that we feel has a good upside and good potential." – Habs coach Jacques Martin on Louis Leblanc

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