Defence the story as Senators try to defend home ice against Canadiens

Go figure, hockey experts.

The Eastern Conference-leading Montreal Canadiens are at Scotiabank Place Monday night, sporting a sparkling road record of 4-1-1, undefeated in their past three games away from Montreal. Meanwhile, the red-hot and injury-depleted Ottawa Senators, who have won four consecutive games and own a brilliant home record of 8-1-2, can pull into a tie with Montreal with a victory

Go figure, hockey experts.

The Eastern Conference-leading Montreal Canadiens are at Scotiabank Place Monday night, sporting a sparkling road record of 4-1-1, undefeated in their past three games away from Montreal. Meanwhile, the red-hot and injury-depleted Ottawa Senators, who have won four consecutive games and own a brilliant home record of 8-1-2, can pull into a tie with Montreal with a victory.

“We’re playing more aggressive at home,” said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. “It’s easier to get the matchups we want and we’ve done a pretty good job with that.”

Alfredsson, however, knows a victory won’t be easy against a Canadiens team which has stunned the league by rolling out to a 12-4-2 record after finishing dead last in the Eastern Conference in 2011-12.

While the Senators did knock off the Canadiens 5-1 at Scotiabank Place on Jan. 30, that came with back-up goaltender Peter Budaj in net. This time, the Senators will face Carey Price. Price, who defeated the Senators 2-1 on Feb. 3 – the game which included the infamous goal by Andre Benoit which was waved off by officials – has a 10-3-1 record, with a 1.97 goals against average and .923 save percentage.

“He has been playing unbelievable for them this year,” said Alfredsson. “They’re a team that plays well defensively and goals are going to be tough to come by…which is the case just about every night pretty much. Getting that first goal, we always talk about that, is important. It forces the other team to open up a little bit and that’s going to be our goal tonight.”

The Senators will counter with goaltender Ben Bishop, who helped beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on Saturday. Bishop, replacing injured number one goaltender Craig Anderson, has won his past three decisions and now has a 3-2 record, a 2.47 goals against average and a .921 save percentage.

Bishop was named the NHL’s third star of the week. Bishop stopped nine of 10 shootout shots during the week.

The Senators (1.81) rank second in the NHL in fewest goals allowed per game, trailing only the Chicago Blackhawks. The Canadiens (2.07) rank fourth.

Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller each had a goal and an assist in Saturday’s 3-0 win over the New York Rangers.

Colin Greening, meanwhile, is fresh from scoring the winning goal and adding two assists in the Senators’ win over the Maple Leafs Saturday. Rookie Mika Zibanejad also had a goal and an assist, the first two point game of his career.

 

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