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Well-rested Habs ready for League-leading Flyers

by Arpon Basu
BROSSARD, Que. -- The Montreal Canadiens will be at full strength Wednesday when they face the League's top team, the Philadelphia Flyers (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN, RDS).

The Flyers had to travel last night after an emotional 3-2 home win against their cross-state rival Pittsburgh Penguins -- one that allowed Philadelphia not only to end Pittsburgh's 12-game win streak, but also leapfrog the Penguins into first in the League standings.

The Canadiens have been sitting at home for three days waiting for this game, and the time off has allowed a couple of injured key players to heal. Coach Jacques Martin, however, has no illusions that this will be an easy game in spite of that advantage.

"It's a big challenge," Martin said after Wednesday's morning skate. "They have a very well-balanced team and some of the best offensive production in the NHL. They have three lines that can score and their defense is much improved."

Defenseman Jaroslav Spacek, hurt Saturday in a fight with Toronto Maple Leafs forward Clarke MacArthur, was declared fit for the game and will be in his usual spot on Montreal's top shut-down pairing with Czech countryman Roman Hamrlik.

Center Scott Gomez, who has missed the last two games, will be back Wednesday, playing on a line with Brian Gionta and rookie call-up Max Pacioretty, who will make his season debut.

The Flyers did not skate Wednesday morning, so it is not clear whether coach Peter Laviolette will give Brian Boucher the start on back-to-back nights, turn to rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, or if Michael Leighton, last season's hero, will make his season debut after recovering from back surgery and being added to the active roster after Tuesday's win.

If there were a team Leighton probably would be comfortable facing in his first game, it would have to be Montreal. In Philadelphia's five-game win against Montreal in last season's Eastern Conference Final, Leighton went 4-1 with three shutouts, a .950 save percentage and 1.41 goals against average.

Carey Price will be back in goal for the Canadiens after sitting out Saturday's 3-1 loss in Toronto.

Martin maintained his line combinations from a day earlier, with Travis Moen lining up next to Tomas Plekanec and Michael Cammalleri, while Andrei Kostitsyn will play with Jeff Halpern and Maxim Lapierre.

Rookie defenseman P.K. Subban will play in the place of Yannick Weber, and of course his early season war of words with Flyers center Mike Richards was a topic of discussion.

Subban, just as obviously, brushed it aside.

"All that stuff's in the past now," said Subban. "All teams want is to win and get the two points. I think that's all said and done and over with."
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