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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pregame Preview: Canadiens at Senators (Game #48)

Habs Vs Sens Playoffs 
Match Up:

The Canadiens (26-16-5) are in Ottawa Thursday night to take on the Senators (21-18-8) at the Canadian Tire Centre. The game is set to start at 7:30 and can be seen on RDS and TSN.

This is the third of five games between the Habs and Sens, and the Canadiens are still looking for their first win. When these teams met at the beginning of the month, two third period goals helped the Habs force overtime but Clarke MacArthur scored 58 second into OT to give Ottawa the win. Daniel Briere had 2 goals and an assist in the 4-3 loss.

What to Watch:

Max Pacioretty scored his team high 20th goal Tuesday night, he's on pace to beat his career high of 33 goals set in 2011-2012. PK Subban still leads the Habs in points, but he has been shut out since his 4-point night in Dallas 6 games ago. In the 5 games since, Subban has gone -3 with 8 PIM.

Kyle Turris comes into Thursday's match riding a 3-game point streak with 3 goals and an assist in that span. Like the Canadiens, the Senators' top point scorer is also a defenseman. Erik Karlsson leads the way for Ottawa with 10 goals and 43 points.

What's at Stake:

The Canadiens have gone 7-7-2 in their last 16 games, good enough to maintain fourth spot in the Eastern Conference, but they may need to be better down the stretch if they expect to stay ahead of the rest of the Eastern pack. The Senators are among the teams chasing the Habs, they're 7 points back of Montreal and have gone 6-0-1 in their last 7 games.

Who's Out:

The Canadiens are missing Alex Galchenyuk (hand), Ryan White (upper body) and Davis Drewiske (shoulder). David Desharnais missed Tuesday's game with the flu but traveled with the Habs to Ottawa and will be a game time decision Thursday night.

The Senators are without Chris Neil (lower body) which should have Habs fans breathing a sigh of relief. Neil's 6 points in 42 games this season doesn't make him the biggest threat offensively, but he was a major thorn in Montreal's side during last year's playoff meeting.

What Else:

Normally a strength for the Habs, Montreal's power play has been ice cold during their recent stretch of mediocrity. The Canadiens have gone 6-54 in their last 16 games with the man advantage and have been 0 for their last 18. The Senators have been fairly effective against the Habs' power play, they've killed 9 of Montreal's 10 opportunities in the 2 previous games this season.

The Question Mark:

It's time to have your say, is the slumping power play the worst problem affecting the Habs right now or is there a bigger weakness?

Let us know what you think, leave a comment or send us a tweet by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.

Be sure to tune into the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show an hour before the puck drop and the Post Game Show 5 minutes after the final siren. Join the live conversation by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.

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