Habs Look to Extend Winning Streak vs. Oilers
The Montreal Canadiens (33-29-6) will be looking to extend their winning streak to four games as they host the Edmonton Oilers (21-39-6) on Thursday night.
As the Canadiens continue to hold their sixth place position in the Eastern Conference by a mere two points, the Oilers are just looking out their dismal season that sees them dead last in the league overall.
A win for Montreal would match their season high win streak mark of four games, which they have done twice this season.
This will be the second, and final meeting between the two teams this season. The Oilers won the first game at Rexall Place by a 3-2 decision.
Puck drop is at 7:00 EST
Montreal comes into the game after a convincing 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. Scott Gomez had a goal and two assists in that game, and has eight points in the last four games for Montreal.
Jaroslav Halak, should get the start again after getting his first full day off from hockey and extended travel since February 8. Halak is 2-0 with a 1.73 GAA and .942 SvPct since reliving Carey Price in the second period of the Habs 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks.
Many feel that Halak needs to be the go to goalie for the Canadiens down the stretch. Longtime Canadiens writer Red Fisher is the latest to agree.
The Canadiens took Wednesday off, so expect to see the same lineup from Tuesday. Coach Jacques Martin ran the same line combinations during the Thursday morning skate.
Edmonton played a miserable game Tuesday, losing 4-1 to the Ottawa Senators, spending most of the game in their own zone, and have just four goals in regulation in their last three games.
The Oilers, beleaguered by injuries all season, found their problems get worse before and after the trade deadline. They lost defenseman Sheldon Souray for the season right on deadline day. The veteran rearguard, and subject of many trade rumours leading up to March 3, was diagnosed with an infection in his hand after surgery to repair a broken bone received in a pre-Olympic fight with the Flames Jarome Iginla.
They then lost blueliner Ladislav Smid, who will require neck surgery and is out for the season, and forward Ryan Jones (knee), this past weekend.
To top it off, left winger Patrick O'Sullivan left Tuesday's game with a hand injury and did not return.
With all the injuries continuing to mount, Edmonton recalled forward Chris Minard from the Springfield Falcons (AHL) on Wednesday.
If injury problems were not enough in Edmonton, the recent DUI charges against injured goalie Nikolai Khabibulin have also added to the teams woes. Khabibulin spoke to the media briefly on Tuesday. While advised by council not to talk about the pending court hearings, he did talk on his frustration of missing most the the 2009-10 season.
"It's not fun to rehab most of the time," he said. "Hockey is what I love to do. With the team being in last place, it's never fun."
Despite the lone bright spot in Quebec-born goaltender Jeff Drouin-DesLauriers (2-1-0, 1.62, .944 in last 3 GP), rookie Devan Dubnyk will get the start for Edmonton. Dubnyk is still seeking his first NHL win this season.
La Presse's Marc Antoine Godin has some reaction from DesLauriers on his disappointment, and understanding, in not getting the start against his home province crowd. (Note: Google Translation)
A little Habs history:
Canadiens HOFer and former captain Sprague Cleghorn was born on this day in 1890.
Thousands gather at the funeral for Habs legend Howie Morenz on March 11, 1937.
Gerry McNeil earned his first NHL shutout on this day in 1950.