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Canadiens seize day on Super Bowl weekend

Montreal continues tradition of playing back-to-back afternoon dates before NFL title game

by Arpon Basu @ArponBasu / LNH.com Senior Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens are holding their annual back-to-back matinees on Super Bowl weekend, and this year's edition features some serious star power.

The Canadiens host Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; SN, RDS, CSN-DC, NHL.TV) and Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday (1 p.m. ET; SN, RDS, NHL.TV).

The tradition of holding matinee games on Super Bowl weekend began in 1990-91 season, giving families with young children a chance to come watch a Canadiens game on the weekend.

Montreal goaltender Carey Price likes the atmosphere created by having young children in the stands so much that he feels the Canadiens shouldn't limit afternoon games to one weekend a year.

"That's why I think every [weekend] game should be in the afternoon, especially on Sundays," said Price, 29, who became a father for the first time in May. "I don't see a reason why it shouldn't."

This is the second straight year that McDavid will visit Bell Centre on Super Bowl weekend; last season, he played in the Saturday game and didn't arrive as the leading scorer in the NHL as he is now, with 59 points (17 goals, 42 assists).

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McDavid was held off the scoresheet last season in Montreal's 5-1 win, but provided perhaps the highlight of the game when he moved in on Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry, pulled the puck between his legs and took a shot with his stick between his legs that just missed the far top corner, all while moving at top speed.

This year, McDavid and the Oilers will face the Canadiens on the day of the big game, and perhaps the two teams can be inspired by some of these Super Bowl Sunday performances of the past at Bell Centre:

 

Jan. 26, 1992

Patrick Roy made 31 saves to help the Canadiens defeat the Hartford Whalers 3-1. The only shot to get past him was taken by current Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin, one of 36 goals he scored in his 1,191 career NHL games.

 

Jan. 26, 1997

The Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins were tied 1-1 after two periods before Mario Lemieux scored four goals in the third period to lead the Penguins to a 5-2 win. Ron Francis had three assists, including one on Lemieux's first goal that also was assisted by Jaromir Jagr.

 

Jan. 31, 1999

Jagr had two goals and two assists in a 5-3 Penguins win, giving him 67 points in 45 games. He finished that season as the League scoring leader with 127 points (44 goals, 83 assists), the second-highest total of his NHL career.

 

Jan. 28, 2001

This was Michel Therrien's first Super Bowl Sunday in his first stint as Canadiens coach, which lasted from Nov. 20, 2000, to Jan. 20, 2003. Trevor Linden, now the president of hockey operations for the Vancouver Canucks, had a goal and two assists for Montreal in a 4-1 win against the Ottawa Senators.

 

Jan. 26, 2003

Andrei Markov scored a goal, played 25:26 and was named first star of a 4-3 win against the Chicago Blackhawks. Fourteen years later, Markov is still playing in Montreal.

 

Feb 1, 2004

Canadiens forward Niklas Sundstrom had a goal and two assists and was named first star of a 6-4 win against the Blackhawks. It was Sundstrom's only three-point performance in his 154 games with Montreal.

 

Feb. 4, 2007

Sheldon Souray scored in overtime and had two assists, and Tomas Plekanec had two goals and an assist in the Canadiens' 4-3 win against the Penguins. Sidney Crosby had two assists in his first Super Bowl Sunday game in Montreal.

 

Feb. 3, 2008

The Canadiens took a three-goal lead, but the New York Rangers scored five unanswered goals to win 5-3. Scott Gomez, who was traded to Montreal 17 months later, had a goal and an assist for the Rangers.

 

Feb. 7, 2010

Tuukka Rask made 36 saves in a 3-0 win by the Boston Bruins, the first time the Canadiens were shut out on Super Bowl Sunday since the weekend matinee tradition began in 1991. Marco Sturm scored two goals and Patrice Bergeron had two assists for the Bruins.

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