RANGERS (7-3-0) at CANADIENS (4-5-0)
Season series --
This is the first meeting of the season between the teams. Last season, they split their four games with the Rangers taking the final two contests.
Big story --
The Rangers dealt Scott Gomez
to the Canadiens during the offseason to free up room for free agent Marian Gaborik
, and this will be their first meeting since the trade.
But Gomez is playing down the reunion with his old team.
"It was different when I played against New Jersey for the first time because I'd been there so long," said Gomez, who signed as a free agent with the Rangers in 2007 after seven seasons with the Devils. "I was only in New York a couple of years."
After a hot start and a seven-game winning streak, the Rangers have slipped a little in their past two games, both losses. But coach John Tortorella isn't worried about his team's performance.
"I am not disappointed in the team as far as how they played," Tortorella said after the Rangers' 4-2 loss to the Devils on Thursday. "I thought they made some good plays. We made some bonehead plays that cost us but I like the way we battled back."
The Canadiens are headed in the opposite direction. After dropping five in a row, they've won two straight after drubbing the Islanders 5-1 on Thursday. Not only was it a rare win, but a blowout.
"We're making it hard on ourselves," said Mike Cammalleri
, who scored for the second time in three games. "Every game's been so tight, and it's important to try and win in tight games and find ways to win those games but at the same time you can't do that 82 times a year."
Who's hot --
It's starting to feel a little redundant, but Gaborik has 13 points (7 goals) in 10 games this season and has only been held pointless in one of them. Right wing Ales Kotalik has 10 points (4 goals) in his past 8 games.
For the Canadiens, Cammalleri has 3 goals in his past 2 games. Jaroslav Halak has been in net the past two games -- both wins -- and has stopped 43 of 45 shots.
Injury report --
Tough guy Donald Brashear was a scratch from the Rangers' last game due to soreness. Montreal continues to play without defensemen Andrei Markov
and Ryan O'Byrne for the long term.
Stat pack --
The Rangers haven't lost three straight games in regulation since a three-game stretch between Dec. 3-7, 2007.
Montreal's Glen Metropolit had two assists Thursday in his first game back after missing two weeks with a rib injury. Defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron had a goal and an assist against the Islanders in just his second game with the team.
Puck drop --
The Rangers seemed to be playing a more relaxed game at home of late, so taking their game on the road could be exactly what they need. The Canadiens are hoping to keep the momentum, but the big question right now lies in net. Habs coach Jacques Martin has yet to decide who will start vs. the Rangers -- struggling starter Carey Price
or the red-hot backup Halak.
-- Dave Lozo, NHL.com