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Friday, April 4, 2014

Pregame Preview: Canadiens at Senators (Game #78)

Habs Vs Sens Playoffs 
Match Up:

After facing their probable first round opponent on Tuesday, the Canadiens (43-27-7) have their last chance this season to get some revenge on the Senators (32-30-14), their first round opponent last year. The game starts at 7:00 from the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, and airs on RDS and CBC.

This is the fifth and final game between these teams this season. The teams each have a pair of wins but Ottawa has the only regulation win of the series. The last time these teams met the Canadiens set an NHL record when they erased Ottawa's 3 goal lead with under 5 minutes remain to come away with a 5-4 OT victory. PK Subban assist on the 3 third period goals and Francis Bouillon scored the OT winner to put this team in the record books and start the Habs on a streak of 8 wins in 9 games.

What to Watch:

Carey Price made 30 saves in Montreal's 3-1 loss to the Lightning on Tuesday, but it will be Peter Budaj getting the start as the Habs prepare for back-to-back games Friday and Saturday. Brendan Gallagher had the lone goal for the Canadiens in Tampa, he's up to 19 on the season and 40 points.

Erik Karlsson is up to 70 points on the year for the Sens, including 20 goals. That puts Karlsson 13 points ahead of Duncan Keith, second in points for a defenseman, but Keith has a +18 rating compared to Karlsson's -18.

What's at Stake:

With the Lightning losing Thursday against the Flames, the Habs and Bolts are in a dead heat for second place in the Atlantic with 5 games left to play. The Canadiens have the edge over the Lightning in terms of the Regulation and Overtime Win tiebreaker. The Senators aren't mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but they have just 6 games remaining with the eighth place Blue Jackets holding an 9-point lead over the Sens.

Who's Out:

Douglas Murray was handed down a 3-game suspension for his elbow to the head of Michael Kostka in Tuesday's game. Murray joins Josh Gorges (hand), Travis Moen (concussion), Dale Weise (wrist) and Brandon Prust (upper body) on the sidelines.

Bobby Ryan had season ending surgery to repair a sports hernia last week, more or less ending any hope the Senators had of reaching the playoffs. Jason Spezza (lower body) is questionable for Friday's match, he's missed the last 2 games for Ottawa. Jared Cowen (lower body) and Colin Greening (lower body) are out.

What Else:

David Desharnais was nominated as the Canadiens candidate for the Bill Masterton trophy awarded to the player that exemplifies perserverance and dedication to the game. Desharnais was undrafted and began his NHL career at the age of 24, playing 6 games in the 2009-2010 season. Now with 252 NHL games under his belt, Desharnais has 49 goals and 160 points to his credit, keeping his spot on the Habs' top line for a third straight season.

The Question Mark:

We want to hear from you, if the Habs are completely healthy when the playoffs begin, who wouldn't be in your starting lineup for Game 1?

Let us know what you think, leave us a comment or send us a tweet with 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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