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The Montreal Canadiens and Atlanta Thrashers
will face each other for the third time this season.  They have split the
season-series thus far, with Montreal winning the first game in a shootout, 2-1,
and Atlanta winning the last game, 5-4.  Montreal will look to bounce back
after a controversial 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh, where the tying goal was
disallowed with 6 minutes left in the game, thus ending their 3-game winning
streak.  Atlanta will be looking to turn things around as well, as they
have lost their last 3 games and have been outscored 12-5.  The Canadiens
are 4-4-2 over the last 10 games, and the Thrashers are 5-4-1 over the same span
of games.

After an impressive 38-save performance on
Thursday, Canadiens’ fans can expect to see Carey Price (9-11-2, 2.71 GAA, .914
SV%) back in net.  He is 2-2-1 over the past 5 games, with a 2.20 GAA and
.923 SV%.  Johan Hedberg (7-3-0, 2.15 GAA, .933 SV%) is expected in net for
Atlanta, as Atlanta has been rotating their goalies of late, and Ondrej Pavelec
(8-8-3, 3.09 GAA, .913 SV%) lost the last game against Vancouver.  Hedberg
has been hot in his last 5 starts, going 3-2-0 (2.35 GAA, .943 SV%) and
recording a shutout.  Hedberg is 1-6-1 in his career against Montreal,
whereas Price boasts a winning record of 3-2-1.

Tomas Plekanec leads the Habs in scoring
through the first 32 games with 31 points (6G, 25A), but is
trailed closely in points by the Canadiens’ leading goal scorer Mike Cammalleri (17G,
11A).  Cammalleri has been racking up points lately, and has 6 points in
his last 4 games.  The Thrashers employ a high-flying offense and feature
perennial scoring threat Ilya Kovalchuk (16G, 12A), Rich Peverley (10G, 19A),
Maxim Afinogenov (11G, 15A) and Nik Antropov (3G, 21A).  Their potent
attack is ranked 3rd in the NHL (3.1 goals per game) which is vastly superior to
Montreal (27th, 2.44 goals per game).  Montreal and Atlanta fare equally
(read: struggle) in the goals against department, with the Habs (2.78 GAA, 18th
in the NHL) maintaining a slight edge over the Thrashers (2.86 GAA, 20th).

It isn’t too surprising, given their offense
depth, that the
Thrashers possess one of the better powerplay records in the league. 
Atlanta boasts a 21.5% conversion rate, good for 6th in the NHL. The Canadiens
have improved their play with the
man advantage recently (4 for 8 in the last 3 games), and are now ranked 16th in
the NHL with a 19.2% success rate.  A league-wide conspiracy seems apparent,
as Montreal remains
dead-last in the league for powerplay opportunities, having drawn at least 12
less opportunities than any other team and 48 less opportunities than the leader
in this category. This is bad news for the Canadiens, as Atlanta has one of the
better penalty-killing units (85%, 5th in the NHL) and are among the
least-penalized teams in the league. The PK has been strong for Montreal lately,
as they have had to kill off 27 straight penalties, which has improved their
rate to 83.3% (10th).

Andrei Markov (ankle) and Brian Gionta (foot) are out with injuries while
Paul Mara (upper body) is questionable for tonight.  Benoit Pouliot (wrist)
is presently undergoing a conditioning stint with Montreal’s AHL affiliate and
is expected back soon. Atlanta is comparatively healthy are is only missing Kari
Lehtonen (back surgery).  Andrei Markov has been skating hard recently, and
will accompany the team to Atlanta.  He and Gionta will meet with the
medical staff on Monday to be evaluated for updates.   Montreal hasn’t
won in regulation in Atlanta since January 28th, 2007.

The puck drops at 7:00 and can be seen on RDS
and CBC.

This preview was written by Matt