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Montreal (25-25-5) at Ottawa (30-21-4) –
Saturday, January 30th, 2010.

The slumping Montreal Canadiens visit the
red-hot Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon for CBC’s Hockey Day in Canada.  The
Canadiens lost both games on a dismal road trip to Florida and Tampa Bay,
recording only a single goal.  Conversely, the Sens are a team headed in a completely
different direction; they matched a franchise record with their 8th
consecutive win on Thursday night.  It will be up
to the Canadiens to play spoilers, but Ottawa owns the season series thus far
this year, winning 3 of the 4 games.  Ottawa is an impressive 8-2-0 over
their last 10 games while Montreal is a mediocre 4-4-2.

With both goalies recording losses this week,
Coach Jacques Martin has yet to disclose who will be starting for Montreal. 
Jaroslav Halak’s numbers (14-8-1, 2.43 GAA, .927 SV%) are superior to those of
Carey Price (11-17-4, 2.73 GAA, .913 SV%), but neither goalie has excelled
against the Senators in their last starts.  With Pascal Leclaire (11-10-1,
3.07 GAA, .890 SV%) once again injured, Brian Elliot (16-11-3, 2.52 GAA, .909 SV%)
has grabbed the starting reins decisively, having won his last 6 consecutive
starts, allowing only 6 goals over that span.

Despite seeing a never-ending rotation of
right-wingers on his line, Tomas Plekanec continues to produce (3 points in his
last 3 games) and remains the Canadiens’ scoring leader (13G, 39A).  He is
followed closely by the Habs’ leading goal-scorer, Mike Cammalleri (26G, 21A)
and by Scott Gomez (7G, 28A).  Ottawa’s captain, Daniel Alfredsson, leads the Senators in scoring
(14G, 28A) and his return from injury coincides with Ottawa’s hot streak (11
points in 7 games).  Mike Fisher (18G, 22A) and ex-Hab Alex Kovalev (13G,
24A) round out the scoring for the Sens.

Ottawa (2.73 goals per game, 12th in the NHL)
owns a significant edge in goal scoring over Montreal (2.49 goals per game,
28th).  The two teams fare about the same defensively, but Montreal’s
numbers (2.67 GAA, 11th) are marginally superior to those of Ottawa (2.76 GAA,
16th).  There is a polar opposite when it comes to the man advantage, as
the Montreal powerplay (24.7%, 2nd) is vastly superior that of the Senators
(14.9%, 30th).  It is of note that the Habs have only converted a meagre
15.4% of their powerplay chances against the Senators, and have conceded a
shorthanded goal to them this season.  Montreal (84.2%, 7th) fares about the same as Ottawa
(84.0%, 8th) on the penalty-kill, but Ottawa is tied for 3rd-best for
shorthanded goals with 6.

Montreal will be minus the services of Andrei
Kostitsyn (knee surgery), Jaroslav Spacek (flu/upper body) and
Paul Mara (upper body).  Yannick Weber has been recalled to fill Spacek’s
spot on defence.  Ottawa is
likely to only be missing the unlucky Pascal Leclaire (concussion) and Jesse
Winchester (knee).  This game will be the first of an all-Canadian

The game can be seen on RDS, CBC and the NHL
Network (US).  Game-time is 2pm EST.

This preview was written by Matt