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Habs ready to host struggling Thrashers

by Brian Compton /
THRASHERS (20-15-6) at CANADIENS (21-16-2)


Last 10: Atlanta 3-4-3; Montreal 3-7-0.

Season Series: This is the second of four meetings between the teams. Atlanta earned a 3-0 victory against the Canadiens on Nov. 26 at Philips Arena. Rich Peverley had a pair of goals for the Thrashers, while Ondrej Pavelec stopped all 25 shots he faced.

Big Story: It didn't take very long for James Wisniewski to get comfortable with his new surroundings. In his Montreal debut Friday night, Wisniewski scored twice -- including the game-winner in overtime -- to lead the Canadiens to a 3-2 victory against the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center.

"Hopefully, our fans can celebrate a good New Year now," Wisniewski said. "We were struggling, so to come back from down 2-0 and get the win is big for us. Now, hopefully, we can build on this."
Team Scope:

Thrashers: The recent woes continued for Atlanta on Friday night, as it dropped its fifth decision in six games with a 3-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center. Dustin Byfuglien had the lone goal for the Thrashers.

"You can see they had a game plan coming in and they stuck to it," Atlanta coach Craig Ramsay said. "They got ahead and they make things difficult when they get ahead like that. They're a good checking team and they have some big people who took advantage of us. We were playing our ninth game in 15 days and we're losing bodies and losing energy. The end result isn't what we wanted, but our kids battled all night. The effort was there."

Canadiens: Montreal shook things up a bit prior to Friday's win, as the Habs acquired defenseman Brett Festerling and a fifth-round pick in 2012 from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Maxim Lapierre. The 25-year-old had five goals and three assists in 38 games with the Canadiens this season.

"Max has been with the Canadiens for a long time and it was time to move on," Habs GM Pierre Gauthier told the Montreal Gazette.

Who's Hot: Byfuglien has two goals and an assist in his past three games and points (four goals, three assists) in six of his last seven contests. … Wisniewski has tallied points in seven of eight.

Injury Report: For the Thrashers, forward Ben Eager missed Friday's game due to a lower-body injury, while Nik Antropov (hip) was placed on IR on Thursday. … Montreal will be without defensemen Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges, who are both out with knee injuries.

Stat Pack: Friday's loss in New Jersey was Atlanta's 16th game in just 30 days. … Habs goalie Carey Price is 3-1-1 with a 2.96 goals-against average at home against the Thrashers.

Puck Drop:  "I was playing Call of Duty with a couple of my teammates when [Isles GM] Garth Snow called to tell me I'd been traded. I was really surprised to be traded, especially at this time of the year, but I'm really excited to be coming to a team with a shot at winning the Cup." -- Canadiens defenseman James Wisniewski

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