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Flames aim to grab key two points from Canadiens

by Brian Hunter
CANADIENS (25-31-10) at FLAMES (29-25-12)


Last 10:
Montreal 2-7-1; Calgary 3-3-4

Season Series: Second and final meeting of the season. Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 35 shots and passed Mike Vernon to become Calgary's all-time leader in wins by a goaltender in its 4-1 victory in Montreal on Oct. 13.

Big Story:
Sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings with seven teams they would have to climb over in order to make the playoffs, the Canadiens are looking at playing the spoiler role down the stretch this season. This is the type of game where they could inflict some serious damage on the postseason hopes of their opponent.

Team Scope:

Canadiens: The month of February all but finished Montreal's chances of playing beyond the first week of April, as the Canadiens went 5-8-1 and lost their final five. After recording a shootout win at home to put a crimp in the Wild's chances in the West race, the Habs were unable to prolong the recent downfall of their Original Six rivals the Maple Leafs, who dealt them a 3-1 loss Saturday. Erik Cole gave the home team a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes, but Toronto came back to salvage Randy Carlyle's debut coaching the team after Ron Wilson was fired.

"There were a few breakdowns, but we kept them to the outside," defenseman Josh Gorges said in the Montreal Gazette. "(But) we didn't spend enough time in their end. We didn't stay strong on the puck and it allowed them to work their transition game and come at us with good speed. They lost a few games in a row, they fired their coach, we knew they were coming."

In the seven games since beating Los Angeles to temporarily move into eighth place in the West standings, Calgary has posted a 1-3-3 record and slipped down to 11th, three points behind San Jose. The Flames have also played two more games than the Sharks. They began a stretch in which they play five of six at the Scotiabank Saddledome with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars on Sunday. Curtis Glencross and Jarome Iginla rallied the home team from a pair of one-goal deficits, but the consolation point was the best they could manage.

"We keep going," Iginla said in the Calgary Herald. "There's lots of hockey to be played … lots of points left. We need to put a string together. We know we need to win a good share of those games, but we believe we can do that."

Who's Hot: David Desharnais has 3 goals and 4 assists during a four-game points streak for the Canadiens. … Glencross has goals in four straight games for the Flames. Iginla (2-2-4) and Alex Tanguay (1-3-4) have three-game points streaks active.

Injury Report: Montreal forward Aaron Palushaj (cut above eye) is day-to-day. Forwards Scott Gomez (eye) and Mathieu Darche (upper body) are out indefinitely. … Calgary forwards Blake Comeau (shoulder) and Lance Bouma (upper body) are day-to-day. Defenseman Chris Butler (thigh) and forwards Lee Stempniak (ankle), Blair Jones (ankle) and Mikael Backlund (arm) are on injured reserve.

Stat Pack:
Lars Eller won 9 of 15 faceoffs (60 percent) for the Canadiens on Saturday, a night when they won just 35 percent of their draws overall. … David Moss saw 17:41 of ice time against the Stars in his third game back from injury and recorded an assist for his first point since Nov. 12. Moss missed 47 games due to lower-body injuries.

Puck Drop:
Expect the goaltending matchup in this one to feature Kiprusoff facing Carey Price of Montreal -- the two enter Tuesday tied for third among NHL goalies with 57 games played. Kiprusoff is on pace to surpass 70 games for the seventh consecutive season. Price eclipsed the mark for the first time last season.

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