The Habs have now lost 4 in a row and tonight’s game wont be easy by any stretch as Alex Kovalev makes his return to the Bell Centre for the first time since leaving as a free agent in July. Kovalev has played in 6 games for the Senators and scored twice but it yet to pick up an assist. Many Canadiens fans attempted to pressure both Bob Gainey and Kovalev into keeping Alex in Montreal with demonstrations in front of the Bell Centre, and although things did not work out that way Kovalev has made it clear to the public that he would one day gladly return to the Canadiens and hopefully end his career here.
Kovalev has always been one to come back to haunt his former teams, in his 42 games against Pittsburgh he has 15 goals and 19 assists for 34 points and while playing the Rangers he has picked up 20 goals and 28 assists for 48 points in just 38 games. Kovalev also scored once and added an assist in a pre season game against the Canadiens in September in Kanata.
It will be interesting to see how Kovalev is welcomed tonight by the 21 thousand and change in the Bell Centre tonight. Tomas Plekanec believes he may be the first returning player to not get the boo bird treatment, although he said he would prefer it if he was wrong.
Special teams have not been going great for either of the two clubs. Ottawa has the leagues second worst power play as it is running at less then 10% but has the leagues second best penalty kill running at 92% as they have allowed just 2 power play goals against. Montreal own the 5th worst penalty kill at just over 69% and ranks 19th in power play at 18.2%.
Jacques Martin has loaded up the Canadiens top line again for this tilt and it appears Max Pacioretty will play with Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn. Should Pacioretty not be able to play tonight Matt D’Agostini may get those 2nd line minutes and Gregory Stewart would return to the line up. Carey Price will start in net and face Pascal Leclaire for the Senators.
1. Montreal and Ottawa have played 25 games on Saturday nights in Montreal the Habs all time record in those games is 13-8-3-1.
2. Montreal has scored 4 goals in each of its last three October Saturday night games.
3. Pascal Leclaire has played just once in the Bell Centre and recorded a 3-0 Shutout win on the night the Canadiens retired Bob Gainey’s #23.