The Montreal Canadiens will be looking for their third win a row over the Ottawa Senators when the teams conclude their season series Saturday at Bell Centre.
After losing their first meeting Oct. 20 in Ottawa 4-3 in overtime, the Canadiens (16-11-5) defeated the Senators in a home-and-home series Dec. 4-6 by the same 5-2 score.
The Canadiens are coming off a 6-4 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at Bell Centre on Thursday and hold the second wild card position in the Eastern Conference. The win came after the Canadiens most lop-sided loss of the season, 7-1 against the Minnesota Wild as they wrapped up a week-long road trip Tuesday.
“We wanted to bounce back from that loss in Minnesota and I think we did that by playing a solid game altogether,” Canadiens goaltender Carey Price told montrealcanadiens.com. “I thought that we played a good game. We skated well. Things opened up a bit in third, but you have to keep in mind that the guys have traveled a lot this week.”
The Senators will have to be wary of the offense the Canadiens are getting from their blue line. Veteran Jeff Petry had two goals in the win against the Hurricanes and has seven points in his past six games. Captain Shea Weber, who made his season debut Nov. 27 after off-season ankle and knee surgery, has three goals and three assists in eight games.
“I was getting tired of hitting posts,” Petry told the team’s website. “Sometimes you can put too much pressure on yourself to produce, but I knew that eventually they would start going in.”
The Senators will be looking to win two games in a row on the road for the first time this season after they defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 in the Motor City on Friday. The win was the Senators fourth on the road this season (4-10-1), one more than the New Jersey Devils, who have the fewest wins on the road in the NHL this season.
“This was a good one because it was on the road,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said, according to the Senators Twitter account. “It looked a lot like what we do at home. A lot of it is because guys are maturing … tonight we didn’t fade away. They had a pushback, but we had a pushback after that.”
Forward Chris Tierney, who had one goal in his previous 27 games, scored twice against the Red Wings.
Craig Anderson made 26 saves against the Red Wings.
“I thought it was a pretty complete game for us. I thought from start to finish we did an outstanding job in all three zones,” Anderson told the Ottawa Sun. “I thought our D did a great job; the battle in our defensive zone was great just boxing guys out.
“That’s what you need to do to have success.”
Anderson will get a break Saturday as backup goaltender Mike McKenna will start against the Canadiens. McKenna, 35, has earned three out of four points for the Senators in his past two starts, a win against the Philadelphia Flyers on the road Nov. 27 and an overtime loss to the Boston Bruins in Ottawa last Sunday.
The Senators, who have been missing forwards Matt Duchene and Jean-Gabriel Pageau and defensemen Dylan DeMelo, Mark Borowiecki and Christian Jaros, had veteran forward Bobby Ryan back in the lineup against the Red Wings. He missed three games with a concussion he sustained against the Canadiens a week ago Thursday.
The Senators could get some more help Saturday against the Canadiens with Jaros close to returning.
“I’m praying every day and I’m lighting up all kinds of candles,” Boucher told the Ottawa Sun. “I get ready for the worst, I get ready for, ‘No,’ and if there’s one, two or three (players returning), but three is dreaming a little bit.
“If we get one (back), that would be big. We had six regulars missing before Bobby came back. He’s back and now we’ve got five (players out). Getting one less (Saturday) is huge for our lineup and for our situation it’s gigantic, so hopefully we get one back.”