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Ducks' Saku Koivu making rare return to Montreal

by Arpon Basu /

DUCKS (7-2-0) at CANADIENS (5-4-0)


Season series: The Montreal Canadiens and Anaheim Ducks have not met since Nov. 30, 2011, and this will be Anaheim's first visit to Montreal since Jan. 22, 2011. The Ducks have won each of the past two meetings.

Big story: Center Saku Koivu has played one game in Montreal since leaving the Canadiens to sign with the Ducks as a free agent in the summer of 2009. He hopes this second game will be less emotional than the first time around.

Not likely.

Koivu was captain of the Canadiens for 10 years and was the face of the franchise for a generation of fans. His 39th birthday is next month, it is entirely possible this could be Koivu's final game in Montreal.

Canadiens coach Michel Therrien was the coach back when Koivu made an emotional return from cancer on April 9, 2002, getting an eight-minute standing ovation from the fans prior to the game and helping Montreal clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 4-3 win against the Ottawa Senators before leading the Canadiens to a first-round upset of the Boston Bruins.

"What I remember the most is the ovation the Canadiens fans gave him," Therrien said after practice Wednesday. "I wasn't behind the bench at the time, I had to go in the back because emotionally, that was a special moment. It is such an important moment in my life that I have a photo of that in my house to remind me of that day. There are moments in your life that stay with you, and his return stayed with me."

Team Scope:

Ducks: Anaheim is playing the second game of a season-long eight-game road trip that runs through Nov. 4. Though the Ducks are perfect at home (5-0-0), they are 2-2-0 on the road with seven games to go on the trip after losing 4-2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

The Ducks lost the special teams battle, allowing a power-play goal and going 0-for-4 on their power play. It was the seventh time in nine games this season the Ducks have failed to score on the power play; they are 3-for-36 this season, a success rate of 8.3 percent, last in the NHL entering Wednesday.

"I didn't think our power play was very good at all tonight. At all," coach Bruce Boudreau said after the game. "It's just something we have to continually work on and make the process get it right. It's a productive thing. We haven't used the power play to win a game this year, or special teams for that matter, and it cost us tonight."

The Ducks have been able to compensate for their power play by being very effective at 5-on-5, scoring 25 goals, tops in the League. But that is sometimes difficult to maintain on the road when the home coach has greater control of the matchups. Fixing the power play may be a key to a successful road trip.

Canadiens: Montreal played its first game since losing Daniel Briere and Brandon Prust to injury Tuesday and blew a 2-0 lead against the Edmonton Oilers to lose 4-3, with their third goal coming with fewer than two seconds remaining.

Montreal was up 2-0 after 20 minutes but the game was tied by the end of the second period, a trend for the Canadiens over the past two seasons under Therrien. Since the start of 2012-13, the Canadiens have allowed 68 goals in the second period and 74 goals in the other two periods combined.

"We opened the door for them, and it was unnecessary," center Lars Eller said Wednesday. "I can't tell you why, but we took our foot off the gas."

Who's hot: Ducks center Mathieu Perreault has a four-game point streak with two goals and two assists. Right wing Emerson Etem has a goal and two assists in his past two games. … Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher has a goal in each of his past two games. Center Tomas Plekanec has three goals and an assist in his past three games.

Injury report: The Ducks are missing left wing Dustin Penner (upper body), left wing Matt Beleskey (thumb), defenseman Luca Sbisa (ankle), defenseman Sheldon Souray (Wrist) and goalie Viktor Fasth (lower body) … The Canadiens will be without Briere (concussion), Prust (shoulder), left wing Max Pacioretty (hamstring), right wing George Parros (concussion), defenseman Alexei Emelin (knee), defenseman Davis Drewiske (shoulder) and defenseman Douglas Murray (upper body).

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