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Preview: Senators at Canadiens

Ottawa can take first place in Atlantic Division with win at Montreal

by Sean Farrell / Staff Writer

SENATORS (41-24-8) at CANADIENS (41-24-9)

7 p.m. ET; SN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV


Senators team scope

Goalie Craig Anderson will start for the Ottawa Senators in their third showdown for the Atlantic Division lead against the Montreal Canadiens in eight days. The Senators trail the Canadiens by one point and have a game in hand. Right wing Mark Stone will return after missing seven games with a lower-body injury. "We've missed him for a while and we knew that our offense wasn't the same, which is normal when you miss a guy of that caliber," coach Guy Boucher said after the morning skate at Bell Centre. "I'm not going to expect him to come in and be outstanding the first game that he comes back, but definitely he's going to make an impact in terms of puck possession and playmaking and our offense, so we're real happy to have him back, big time." Boucher was asked about defenseman Marc Methot's status after his finger was injured when slashed by Sidney Crosby in a 2-1 shootout win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. "Everybody saw it," Boucher said. "It's going to be weeks."


Canadiens team scope

Despite sweeping a home-and-home series against Ottawa last weekend, the Canadiens once again find themselves trying to hold off the Senators to remain in first place in the Atlantic Division. Montreal, which has seven games remaining, has 91 points for a one-point lead on the Senators, who have eight games to play. The Canadiens led Ottawa by four points following their 4-1 win at Bell Centre on Sunday, but Montreal lost 2-1 in overtime to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday and 4-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. "I think for us, our main concern is that we're playing with the same effort every night, and I don't think we had our best [Thursday] and it's got to get back to where it was," defenseman Shea Weber said after practice in Brossard, Quebec, on Friday. "I thought on the weekend it was desperate hockey and that's the way we need to play again [Saturday]." The performance in the loss to Carolina was unacceptable to coach Claude Julien. "We have to be a lot better and there's no doubt that that game [Saturday] has something at stake," he said Friday, "so there's no excuses for not being ready to play and not being willing to be better than we have been the last two games."


Senators projected lineup

Zack Smith -- Kyle Turris -- Bobby Ryan

Alexandre Burrows -- Derick Brassard -- Mark Stone

Mike Hoffman -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau -- Tom Pyatt

Ryan Dzingel -- Chris Kelly -- Tommy Wingels

Fredrik Claesson -- Erik Karlsson

Dion Phaneuf -- Cody Ceci

Mark Borowiecki -- Chris Wideman

Craig Anderson

Mike Condon

Scratched: Jyrki Jokipakka, Christopher DiDomenico

Injured: Marc Methot (finger), Chris Neil (finger), Clarke MacArthur (concussion)


Canadiens projected lineup

Max Pacioretty -- Phillip Danault -- Alexander Radulov

Paul Byron -- Tomas Plekanec -- Brendan Gallagher

Alex Galchenyuk -- Andrew Shaw -- Artturi Lehkonen

Dwight King -- Michael McCarron -- Torrey Mitchell

Andrei Markov -- Shea Weber

Alexei Emelin -- Jeff Petry

Nathan Beaulieu -- Jordie Benn

Carey Price

Al Montoya

Scratched: Brandon Davidson, Andreas Martinsen, Steve Ott

Injured: Nikita Nesterov (lower body), Brian Flynn (upper body)


Status report

Boucher hopes Stalberg can return at some point during Ottawa's five-game road trip. Claesson will dress after being a healthy scratch for the past four games. "Obviously we're going to miss Methot and that's a huge part of our team, he's in the top pair and he plays with Erik and has a gigantic role, but he's not there," Boucher said. "And Claesson's done really well for us, has helped us win many games and he's going to have to do so for the next weeks." Anderson will play in his 500th NHL game after Condon played in the shootout win against the Penguins. … The Canadiens did not have a morning skate. King returns after he was a healthy scratch Thursday. Ott will sit for a second straight game, third in the past four. Martinsen will be a healthy scratch for the sixth time in seven games. "As much as it's a rotation, that's the last thing that's hurt us," Julien said Friday. "Every time guys have been in and out on that fourth line they've done a good job, so I think it's good to know that you have players that can step in and do a job on any night, so that's a positive for me."


Who's hot

Anderson is 7-1-1 in his past nine starts. Hoffman has six points (one goal, five assists) in a five-game point streak, and 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) in his past 14 games. Karlsson has nine points (three goals, six assists) in his past eight games. ... Byron has six points (four goals, two assists) in his past six games.

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