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Les Canadiennes look to clinch first vs Inferno in Calgary

Montreal heads to Calgary for two games against the second place Inferno

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Shanna Martin

With only four games remaining, many had this weekend as the most important of the season. Les Canadiennes (18-2-0) can clinch first place with a win this weekend against the Calgary Inferno (14-4-2) but the task will be harder than it was two weeks ago when the teams last met.

It was announced this week that Calgary forward Rebecca Johnston will be returning to the lineup after missing the start of the season with an injury. She is one of the best players in the world and last season in 24 games she had 17 goals and 20 assists and led the league in scoring.

She is yet another very talented forward in Calgary's deep group of forwards and probably the most talented. It will be interesting to see how she shakes off the rust with four games to go until the first round of the playoffs. Calgary, while chasing Montreal ahead of them is also fighting with the Brampton Thunder for home ice advantage and second spot.

Alongside Johnston, Calgary has several other forwards on a point-per-game pace this season including Brittany EspositoElana LovellBrianne JennerJessica Campbell and Jill Saulnier.

They also have Canadian national team member Meaghan Mikkelson-Reid on defence, Hayley Wickenheiser at forward and all-star Delayne Brian in goal.

For Montreal, they are riding an 11 game winning streak including two wins in Montreal against Calgary in games that were closer than the scores would indicate.

Les Canadiennes are coming off of two hard fought games against Brampton last weekend and even if they don't come away with a win this weekend can clinch first place next week with two wins against the Boston Blades no matter what Calgary does in their final two games. The last time the two teams played in Calgary they split the games.

Montreal's one-two punch in terms of lines with Ann-Sophie BettezMarie-Philip Poulin and Kim Deschênes and Caroline OuelletteNoémie Marin and Katia Clement-Heydra have actually made both lines more dangerous as teams can't focus on only one of them.

That alignment started against Calgary and will likely continue.

Charline Labonté is not coming off of her best performances last weekend, and she would likely admit that as well. However the goaltender is still coming into tonight's game with a 14-1 record, 1.52 GAA and .922 save percentage.

One thing is for certain, at this point of the season any game will be interesting to watch and the playoff implications are not even the main reason. The teams know now is the time to send messages to their opponents that they may see either in the first round of the playoffs or the Clarkson Cup final in Ottawa.

The Inferno will be wearing special purple jerseys for the game as this is their "Start the Spark" game, an awareness campaign and benefit game in partnership with Do it for Daron, the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre and the Canadian Mental Health Association. They are auctioning the game worn jerseys on eBay (but you must be at the game to pick the jersey up).

The game gets underway at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight and will be on CWHL Live.