Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Habs Look For Eastern Lead With Win Over NYR

Should the Montreal Canadiens win tonight vs. the New York Rangers, and the Ottawa Senators should lose tonight vs. the Philadelphia Flyers (in regulation or overtime), the Habs would lay claim to first place overall in the Eastern Conference.

That is mighty impressive, alright.

The Canadiens (32-19-9) are looking to extend their current winning streak to four games with a victory tonight, but it certainly will not come easy.

The Rangers now find themselves six points out of first place in the Atlantic Division and in sixth place in the East, having earned points in four straight games (3-0-1). They have defeated the Candiens 6 times out of their last 7 meetings, and have not yet dropped a game in this year's season series, going 3-0 thus far and looking to complete the sweep tonight.

The Rangers' last victory over the Habs was a memorable one. It was the game in which Montreal pulled away to a 3-0 lead (including a penalty shot goal from S. Kostitsyn), Ryan Hollweg was ejected for boarding, and the Rangers came back with 5 unanswered to defeat the Habs. Emotions should certainly be high tonight in the teams' final meeting of the season - or maybe I should say REGULAR season.

Montreal have rebounded very well after dropping 3 straight games - including one to Ottawa, the Division/Conference leader - by winning 3 straight vs. Florida & Philadelphia twice. Carey Price has been the go-to guy in all of those victories, registering his first NHL shutout in the process. His play has been so exceptional that the NHL recognized him as the league's Third Star for the week ending Feb. 17 with a 3-0-0 record, a 1.32 GAA, and a .963 save percentage, stopping 103 of 107 shots. Pretty impressive for a 20 year old.

All eyes will be on Alex Kovalev and Ryan Hollweg tonight, as the incident in last game may be cause for some retribution from either Kovalev or Hollweg.

No lineup changes for the game tonight, as Carey Price will start again, and Smolinski, Kostopoulos and Brisebois will sit out.

Puck drop: 7:38.

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