NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, March 15th (All times Eastern)
Ottawa Senators (28-25-12) at Montreal Canadiens (35-25-7), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Ottawa Senators are running out of time to prove themselves worthy of a playoff spot, but the club hopes to pick up a win on Saturday when they visit the sliding Montreal Canadiens.
Ottawa has made the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, but Paul MacLean's club enters Saturday five points out of a postseason berth in the Eastern Conference. The Senators have lost three of four and five of their last seven games but does enter Saturday's tilt on a modest two-game point streak.
Montreal, meanwhile, is holding on to the seventh of eight playoff spots in the East, but the Habs have lost three straight in regulation and have been outscored by a 13-3 margin during the slide.
The Sens have won two of three meetings against the Canadiens this season, but Montreal claimed a 5-4 overtime victory in the most recent encounter on Jan. 16 in Ottawa. The last two meetings were decided in OT and four of the past five encounters have gone beyond regulation.
Ottawa has won three of five overall in the series and the Sens halted a four- game road losing streak against the Canadiens with a 4-3 OT win at the Bell Centre on Jan. 4. Montreal rallied from down 3-1 to force overtime in that meeting before Clarke MacArthur scored a power-play goal to win it for Ottawa less than a minute into the extra session.
After notching a 5-3 win at Winnipeg last Saturday, the Senators came back from an early 3-0 deficit to gain a point in Monday's home OT loss to Nashville.
The Predators, who eventually won the game on a Seth Jones goal in overtime, carried a 3-0 lead into the third period before Jared Cowen, Marc Methot and Jason Spezza scored for Ottawa to even the contest.
The recently acquired Ales Hemsky keyed the rally, collecting assists on all three Ottawa goals.
"It shows a lot about the character in the room," Hemsky said about his team's comeback.
Senators No. 1 goalie Craig Anderson allowed three goals on 29 shots before being shaken up in a third-period collision. Lehner stopped 12 shots in relief for Ottawa, which has dropped five of its last seven games.
With Anderson out with an upper-body injury, Lehner will get the start on Saturday. The 22-year-old Swede is 1-0-1 with a 1.85 goals against average in three career games against Montreal. Nathan Lawson was recalled from Ottawa's AHL affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y. to serve as the backup.
Montreal has been playing without its No. 1 goaltender since returning from the Olympic break, but Carey Price could be nearing a return to the crease. Price anchored Team Canada to a gold medal at the Sochi Olympics, but also returned from Russia with an injury that has kept him sidelined for the first eight games after the break.
Price has practiced with the team this week and there is a chance he could see his first NHL action since Feb. 8 on Saturday. The 26-year-old is 26-17-5 with a 2.33 GAA and .925 save percentage in 48 games this season.
Peter Budaj has logged most of the starts in Price's absence, but the Slovakian veteran has a 2-4-1 record since the break. Budaj stopped 28-of-32 shots in Montreal's most recent game, a 4-1 home loss against Boston on Wednesday.
David Desharnais supplied the lone score for the Canadiens, who have lost two of their last three home games and are 18-11-5 as the host this season.
Ottawa is 15-13-6 on the road in 2013-14. The Sens will begin a three-game homestand when they host Colorado on Sunday.
03/15 10:28:35 ET