GAME: Ottawa Senators (39-22-9-6) at Montreal Canadiens (40-27-7-3).
TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
If the Ottawa Senators are serious about winning the Northeast Division
title, they can ill afford to continue playing this poorly.
The Senators will try to bounce back from a loss to a division rival when
they take on another, the Montreal Canadiens.
Ottawa began a season-high six-game road trip with a 4-2 defeat to
Northeast-leading Boston on Tuesday.
The Senators, who are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, have won
just four of their last 11 (4-6-0-1) and are four points behind Boston in the
division with six games to play.
The top four seeds in each conference are guaranteed home-ice in the first
round of the playoffs.
"We're in the desperate part of our season," Ottawa defenseman Todd
Simpson said. "We have to put more energy in our game."
Ottawa has lost three straight and seven of its last nine on the road,
including a 4-2 defeat to Montreal in its last trip to the Bell Centre on Feb.
The Senators' schedule does not get any easier as they face Toronto on
Saturday before visiting the top two teams in the East, Tampa Bay and
Martin Havlat scored his 29th goal and added an assist in Tuesday's loss.
Montreal, which has lost just three of its last 15 games (11-2-1-1), still
needs one point to clinch a playoff spot after falling 2-1 to Buffalo on
The Canadiens are in seventh place in the East, two points behind defending
champion New Jersey with five games remaining.
Michael Ryder scored Montreal's lone goal Wednesday. The right wing is the
NHL's rookie scoring leader with 60 points, and is second on the Canadiens in
both points and goals (24).
"I think we were a little sluggish," said Ryder, who has nine points in
his last seven games. "If we would have pushed a little more early in the game
it would have been a different story."
Mathieu Garon made 31 saves in his fourth start in eight games.
Montreal was without defenseman Patrice Brisebois (groin) and center Joe
Juneau (flu) on Wednesday.
STANDINGS: Senators - 93 points, 3rd place, 4 PB, Northeast Division.
Canadiens - 90 points, 4th place, 7 PB, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Senators - Marian Hossa, 34 goals and 78 points; Daniel
Alfredsson, 46 assists; Chris Neil, 173 PIM. Canadiens - Richard Zednik, 25
goals; Mike Ribeiro, 42 assists and 62 points; Darren Langdon, 135 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 23): Senators - Power play: 22 percent (78 for
354), 2nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.5 percent (269 for 322), 19th. Canadiens
- Power play: 18.1 percent (54 for 298), 8th. Penalty killing: 81.9 percent
(235 for 287), 24th.
GOALTENDERS: Senators - Patrick Lalime (24-23-7, 4 SO, 2.34 GAA); Martin
Prusek (14-5-2, 3, 1.91). Canadiens - Jose Theodore (32-24-5, 6, 2.17); Garon
(8-6-2, 0, 2.32).
SEASON SERIES: Senators, 3-2.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 24; Canadiens, 4-2. At Montreal, Ryder scored two
power-play goals for the Canadiens.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Senators - 16-15-4-1 on the road; Canadiens - 22-11-4-1