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Habs ready for date with Senators

by Arpon Basu
MONTREAL – Both the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators are feeling good about themselves coming off one-goal wins as the two teams prepare to meet Saturday night at the Bell Centre.

But while the Canadiens are benefitting from some splendid play by Carey Price in goal, the Senators are once again dealing with an injury to starting goalie Pascal Leclaire.

The Senators called up 19-year-old prospect Robin Lehner from AHL Binghamton on Saturday morning, and he will back up Brian Elliot against the Canadiens.

For Leclaire, the groin injury that has him listed as day to day for the time being is just the latest in a long line of physical setbacks that have plagued his career, a list that includes injuries to his ankle, hamstring (twice), knee, back, neck (twice), thumb, cheek and a concussion.

"I feel bad for him," Senators center Jason Spezza said. "He's had such a great start to the season, he worked hard this summer. He's had a couple of years where he's had a lot of injuries, so you feel for him. As a team we have to move on while he's out, but personally you feel for him."

Another source of concern in the Senators camp is the play of Alex Kovalev, still a popular figure in Montreal from his years with the Canadiens.

Kovalev has yet to register a point in four games this season, and in Thursday night's 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes he played only 12:40 on Ottawa's fourth line with Ryan Shannon and Peter Regin.

That likely won't change Saturday night, and Kovalev is not particularly worried about it.

"I'm not the only player in the League who's struggling," Kovalev said. "I'm not really too frustrated or too focused on how many points I have. I know they will come, the pucks will start going on in. The most important thing is for us to win."

Kovalev coming to life would also help Ottawa's struggling power play, which sits 29th in the NHL with only one goal on 18 opportunities -- Mike Fisher's third-period game-winner on Thursday broke an 0-for-17 start. The Canadiens have also struggled with the man advantage with one goal on 12 chances after scoring their first of the season in Friday night's 2-1 win in Buffalo.

The Canadiens held an optional skate Saturday morning after arriving late from Buffalo, but coach Jacques Martin confirmed Price will get the start in goal for a fifth straight game.

After allowing three goals on 24 shots in the season-opener in Toronto, Price has a 2-0-1 record with a 2.28 goals against average and a .936 save percentage over his last three starts.
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