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When: February 18, 2007 at 6:00 PM EST
Where: Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio

Coming off of a 5-3 loss at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes last night,
the Canadiens travel to Columbus, Ohio to face the Blue Jackets.  These are
two teams who have struggled as of late.  Columbus has lost five of their
last seven, while Montreal has dropped six games in a row.  The Jackets,
however, are coming off a 3-0 shutout win over the San Jose Sharks. 
Fredrik Norrena stopped all 29 shots he faced, but will serve as Pascal
LeClaire’s backup tonight, as Ken Hitchcock is allowing the youngster to play
for the first time against his favorite childhood team.

If anyone is expecting a high scoring game, that is not likely to be the
case.  The Canadiens have struggled finding the net as of late and the Blue
Jackets have scored the fewest goals this season in the NHL.  Until Sheldon
Souray’s goal against Carolina, these were also two of only three teams without
a twenty goal scorer.  Dallas is the other team lacking a twenty goal
scorer.  Former Maurice Richard Trophy winner Rick Nash is tied with Sergei
Fedorov with 15 goals this season, leading the Blue Jackets in that category.

Who to Watch:

Jaroslav Halak: Halak is projected to make his
NHL debut in Columbus.  The pressure will be on, as he will need to play
well to help end the team’s slide.  Fans will be hoping he can match his
Hamilton teammate Yann Danis’ debut, as Danis shutout Atlanta in his first game
last season.

Gilbert Brule, Columbus: Brule put up a goal
and an assist after being promoted to the second line with veterans Sergei
Fedorov and Fredrik Modin.  It has been a tough season for Brule, toiling
on the fourth line for much of the year.  This is his chance to show why he
was a top draft pick two summers ago.

Saku Koivu:  To say Koivu is struggling
would be an understatement.  As captain, much of the blame for the current
tailspin has been placed on his shoulders.  He needs to step up his game
and lead by example to help right this ship.

Nikolai Zherdev:  It has been a tough
season for this holdout youngster, but things have been looking up lately. 
Criticized for a lack of effort this season, Zherdev has garnered praise
recently for his hard work and has earned a promotion off the fourth line. 
This guy has hands as good as Kovalev, and like Kovalev, struggles with

History:  Head to head, the Canadiens hold a 2-2-1 all-time
record against Columbus.  The two teams last met in 2003 in a game that
ended in a 1-1 tie in Montreal.  The last time the Canadiens visited
Columbus was back in 2001, a game that the Canadiens won 3-1.

Projected Lines:

Blue Jackets:

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Rick Nash Dan Fritsche David Vyborny
Fredrik Modin Sergei Fedorov Gilbert Brule
Jason Chimera Alexander Svitov Nikolai Zherdev
Jody Shelley Manny Malhotra Anson Carter
Left Defense Right Defense
Rostislav Klesla Adam Foote
Ron Hainsey Bryan Berard
O.K. Tollefsen Anders Eriksson
Pascal LeClaire
Fredrik Norrena

– Duvie Westcott, out indefinitely with a concussion, out indefinitely
– Bryan Berard, day-today with general soreness, expected to play (Aaron Johnson
will play if Berard cannot)

Montreal Canadiens:

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Chris Higgins Saku Koivu Michael Ryder
Sergei Samsonov Tomas Plekanec Guillaume Latendresse
Steve Begin Radek Bonk Mike Johnson
Alexander Perezhogin Maxim Lapierre Duncan Milroy
Left Defense Right Defense
Andrei Markov Mike Komisarek
Sheldon Souray Mark Streit
Francis Bouillon Mathieu Dadenault
Jaroslav Halak
David Aebischer

– Craig Rivet, on IR with pneumonia, DtD
– Alexei Kovalev, on IR with an elbow injury, out 2-3 weeks
– Cristobal Huet, on IR with a hamstring injury, out indefinitely