Gameday Preview: Senators at Canadiens

Tonight’s game is the second of five between these two Atlantic Division rivals this season.

Gameday Preview: Senators at Canadiens
Kyle Turris #7 of the Ottawa Senators watches the puck get past Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens in the second period for a 3-1 Ottawa lead during the second period of an NHL game at Canadian Tire Centre on November 7, 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

Ottawa Senators (18-18-7)
@
Montreal Canadiens (24-14-4)
Bell Centre: 7:00 pm ET
Television: CBC, RDS

Backstory…

Tonight’s game is the second of five between these two Atlantic Division rivals this season.

The highly anticipated first game between these two teams was built up to be an opportunity for Montreal to exact some retribution for Ottawa’s physical dominance and scoreboard supremacy during their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series last May.

Although the game lacked the fireworks that many were expecting, goals by Bobby Ryan, Marc Methot, Mark Borowiecki and Kyle Turris led the Senators to a 4-1 win. Robin Lehner made 33 saves on 34 shots for the decision and Carey Price stopped 20 of 24 in defeat.

Storylines…

After beating the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 on Thursday night, the Senators have an opportunity to extend their current three-game winning streak to a season-high four with a win over the Canadiens. This winning streak coincides with the absence of Jason Spezza from the lineup.

Chris Neil will sidelined with a hamstring injury, but Spezza could make his return to the lineup tonight. It is worth noting that Spezza could be held out until Wednesday for precautionary reasons to ensure that his hip flexor injury has healed properly.

For the second consecutive game, Ottawa will be facing a team featuring one of the forwards, Max Pacioretty, who was vying with Bobby Ryan for one of USA Hockey’s Olympic forward positions.

Ryan’s omission has not only been the talk of Ottawa, Brian Burke’s candour and comments that were  published in an ESPN article chronicling the USA Hockey selection process has been the talk of the NHL. Ryan was held pointless in Thursday’s game versus Winnipeg – his first game since the United States’ roster was revealed on Saturday afternoon.

Even though Lehner earned the team’s first victory over Montreal this season, Craig Anderson has been named as tonight’s starter. Anderson has won his last four starts for the Senators.

Montreal is coming off its longest road trip of the season – a six-game stretch that culminated with a 6-4 win in Dallas. The Canadiens put together a 3-2-1 record during the trip but were outscored by an aggregate score of 22-17.

P.K. Subban has two goals and six points in his last two games and has closed to within five points of Erik Karlsson’s 38 for second place amongst defencemen in scoring. Duncan Keith currently leads all defencemen in scoring with 42 points.

Interesting Stat #1

Coming into last night’s action, only the Senators, Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks had six players — Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur, Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, Kyle Turris and Mika Zibanejad — who have scored 10 or more goals this season.

Interesting Stat #2

Since Jason Spezza aggravated his hip flexor against Boston, Mika Zibanejad’s insertion on the Senators’ ‘second’ line has been seamless. In the past three games that Spezza has missed, the Michalek, Zibanejad and Conacher trio have produced four goals and ten points.

Interesting Stat #3

Buoyed by their league leading .922 save percentage while shorthanded, Ottawa’s penalty kill units successfully killed 88.0-percent of their penalties last season.

This season, despite the opposition averaging a lower shot rate while on the power play (52.2 shots per 60 minutes of power play time to last season’s 55.7 shots per 60 minutes of power play ice-time), the Senators have the 25th-worst penalty kill rate in the league at 79.5-percent. Correspondingly, this drop in success rate is matched by the team’s save percentage on the penalty kill. This season it has dropped to .852, the 27th lowest mark in the NHL.

Interesting Stat #4

Max Pacioretty has scored two goals in each of his last two games. In his career, he has had 18 multi-goal games – Montreal’s record in those games is 13-2-3.

Interesting Stat #5

Via ExtraSkater.com, here is a look at the effects of what Erik Karlsson and P.K. Subban have done for their teams at even-strength this season:

Shot Attempts:

With Karlsson on the ice, Ottawa has taken 53.1-percent of all shots attempted and scored 46.5-percent of the goals. With Karlsson off the ice, Ottawa has taken 50.2-percent of the shots attempted when Karlsson is off the ice and 50.5-percent of the goals.

With Subban on the ice, Montreal has taken 50.8-percent of the shots attempted and scored 54.2-percent of all the goals. When Subban is off the ice, Montreal has taken 44.1-percent of the attempted shots and scored 40.9-percent of all the goals.

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