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Sens, Habs set for Round 4

by Magalie Lafreni?re /
SENATORS (12-14-2) at CANADIENS (17-8-2)


Last 10: Ottawa 3-6-1; Montreal 6-3-1

Season series -- This is already the fourth of six games between the two geographical rivals. Montreal won the first two games, a 4-3 win on Oct. 16 and a 3-0 shutout on Oct. 23. In their most recent match-up, former Hab and Ottawa right wing Alex Kovalev scored twice to lift the Senators to a 3-2 victory.

Big story -- It's starting to look like Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier knew what he was doing when he traded Jaroslav Halak for Lars Eller and made Carey Price the No. 1 goaltender. With his 16 wins, Price has led the Canadiens to the Northeast Division lead and third place in the Eastern Conference. Eller has also come into his own, has had his time on ice increased and has had a goal and two assists in his last three games.

Team Scope:

Senators -- Entering into Sunday's contest, the Sens had scored just one goal in their last three games and had been shut out by the Sharks and the Sabres. So it was with much relief when Chris Kelly notched a hat trick, his first of his NHL career, to lead Ottawa to a 3-1 victory over the Rangers.

"I don't know if it was a big sigh of relief, but I think we definitely got looser and more confident," Kelly said of his shorthanded goal in the first period. "It was a good feeling. I thought we had great jump from the start and went from there. I thought every line played well and all six D."

"Pazzy played unbelievable and made a number of big saves," Kelly said of goaltender Pascale Leclaire, who finished the night with 25 saves. "One in the third on a 3-on-1 on Dubinsky, which was fantastic. It was just a great team effort."

Leclaire's performance is nothing to take away from Brian Elliott, who has also been excellent as of late. Saturday he stopped all 31 shots through regulation and overtime to keep his team in the game, which succumbed 1-0 in the shootout.

Canadiens -- Not only did Montreal take down a strong Western Conference team on Saturday with their 3-1 victory over the Sharks, but they won two consecutive games after alternating wins and losses since Nov. 16.

Mathieu Darche, Tomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri scored for the Habs and with just four shots on goal for Montreal in the first period, Price was instrumental in backstopping his team with 26 saves in the win.

"It was a big test for us," Price said. "They're a really good hockey club and we wanted to bring a good performance because those are the types of teams you get measured against.

"We wanted to try and get on a bit of a roll, it's been up and down. So getting two in a row is nice."

Who's hot -- For the Canadiens, Darche with two goals and two assists, Benoit Pouliot, with a goal and two assists and Roman Hamrlik with a goal and four assists have all been riding three-game point streaks.

Other than Kelly on Sunday, no one has been offensively hot for the Senators. Their goaltenders have been the most solidly performing members of their squad.

Injury report -- Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov will undergo right knee surgery on Wednesday and will be out for the rest of the season.

Stat pack-- Montreal has outshot Ottawa 97-69 through the first three games of the season.

Puck drop -- While the Habs have been getting offense across the board lately, there is one more member of the team looking to find the back of the net.

"Like I've already said, everyone has to chip in offensively," explained Price to "I'm trying too. I'll get one eventually. It's been a dream of mine ever since I was a little kid, to score a goal in the NHL."
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