The Montreal Canadiens will close out their
season series with the Thrashers as they visit Atlanta on Monday. Atlanta
holds the series edge winning 2 out of 3 games, the most recent one in
overtime, 4-3. All three games have been decided by one goal, and two of
the games have gone past regulation time. The Thrashers have been
alternating wins and losses recently and are 4-6-0 in their last 10 games.
The Habs ended a 5-game losing skid with a 3-0 win over the New York Islanders
on Saturday, and are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games.
Jaroslav Halak (7-5-0, 2.67 GAA, .913 SV%)
might get the start for Montreal after posting a 40-save shutout over
the Islanders on Saturday. Carey Price (9-13-3, 2.75 GAA, .912 SV%) played
the last two games against Atlanta, but both ended in defeat. Johan Hedberg (9-4-0, 2.33 GAA, .927 SV%) is the likely starter for Atlanta, as he won
his last game against Montreal, and has has gone 5-2-0
with a 2.01 GAA & .934 SV% in his last 8 games. Atlanta’s other goalie,
Ondrej Pavelec (9-9-3, 3.28 GAA, .910 SV%) has struggled lately and allowed 5
goals against the Devils on Saturday.
Tomas Plekanec continues his torrid pace on the
year and leads the Habs in scoring with 36 points (6G, 30A) through 37
games. His 30 assists tie him with Ryan Getzlaf for 3rd best in the NHL,
and he trails only Joe Thornton (39) and Martin St. Louis (31) in that
linemates, Mike Cammalleri (18G,
12A) and Andrei Kostitsyn (9G, 12A) round out the scoring leaders for Montreal
and have collectively been a force to be reckoned with recently. Andrei
Kostitsyn has been particularly potent of late, tallying 7 points (5G, 2A) in
the last 5 games. The high-scoring Thrashers are led by all-star Ilya
Kovalchuk (19G, 17A), and feature Rich Peverley (12G, 21A), Maxim Afinogenov
(12G, 18A) and Nik Antropov (7G, 22A). The Thrashers average 3.53 goals
per game (2nd in the NHL) and are significantly better than Montreal in that
area (2.40 goals per game, 29th). Neither squad excels defensively, but
Montreal (2.76 GAA, 14th) bears an advantage over the Thrashers (3.00 GAA,
23rd). Atlanta has struggled lately on defense, giving up 14 goals in the
last 3 games.
The Thrashers employ one of the league’s best
with the man advantage, boasting a 23.2% conversion rate, good for 3rd in the
NHL. Despite the lack of powerplay opportunities (30th in the NHL by a
the Canadiens have improved to the 8th best powerplay ranking with a success
rate of 21.8%. The Habs, surely aided by Andrei Markov’s return, went a
scorching 3 for 5 last Saturday against the Islanders. Markov made his
presence known with the man advantage, scoring twice on the powerplay after
missing 35 games with a lacerated tendon. The Habs also went 6 for 6 with
the a man short to improve their penalty-killing to 7th best in the NHL (84%).
The Thrashers own the 12th best penalty-killing record (82.6%), but have gone 3
for 6 on the PK over the past two games. The Canadiens still need to work
on their discipline, as they now share the lead for
shorthanded instances (163 times) with the Anaheim Ducks.
With the return of Andrei Markov, the Habs inch
closer to icing their complete roster. Brian Gionta (foot) and Roman
Hamrlik (knee) are unlikely to play, while Benoit Pouliot (wrist) continues his
conditioning stint in Hamilton. Gionta has been skating with the team and
is rumoured to play in Wednesday’s game against the Hurricanes. Atlanta
will be missing Kari Lehtonen (back surgery) and Mark Popovic (foot).
The puck drops at 7:00 and can be seen on RDS
This preview was written by Matt