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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 4th (All times Eastern)
Ottawa Senators (18-18-7) at Montreal Canadiens (24-14-4), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The surging Ottawa Senators will shoot for their first four-game winning streak of the season when they visit the rival Montreal Canadiens for Saturday's Atlantic Division clash at the Bell Centre.
A playoff team in each of the past two seasons, the Senators have struggled with consistency so far in 2013-14 and currently are sitting sixth in the Atlantic Division with 43 points. However, wins in three straight and four of the last five games gives hope that Ottawa is starting to find its groove.
The Senators won all three games on their recent homestand and claimed those victories by a total margin of four goals. Ottawa hopes to stay hot on Saturday when it kicks off a four-game road trip in Montreal, but the Sens are just 7-8-3 as the guest this season and have dropped four straight away from Canada's capital city.
Ottawa recorded a 4-3 regulation win over Winnipeg in the finale of its homestand on Thursday. Mika Zibanejad posted a goal and an assist to help the Senators notch the close victory at Canadian Tire Centre.
Milan Michalek, Zack Smith and Clarke MacArthur also had goals for the Senators, while Craig Anderson stopped 32 shots in the win.
"I thought it was a competitive game up and down the rink and that's the way I thought it would be," said Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean. "We found a way to win the game and that's what is most important."
The Sens have won their last three games without captain Jason Spezza in the lineup and the veteran forward expects to miss a fourth straight tilt on Saturday.
Ottawa hasn't won four in a row since April 11-18 of last season and a victory could be difficult to come by on Saturday, as the Sens have lost four straight and five of their last six tilts in Montreal.
The Sens have won two of the past three encounters with the Canadiens overall and Ottawa recorded a 4-1 home victory when the clubs met for the first of five matchups this season on Nov. 7.
Montreal won Thursday night in Dallas, halting a two-game slide to complete a six-game road trip with a 3-2-1 mark.
Lars Eller scored the winner in the third period to help the Canadiens take down the Stars, 6-4. Max Pacioretty had two goals and two assists, while P.K. Subban added a goal and three assists for the Habs. Carey Price gave up four goals on 32 shots.
"That's what we need. We've been struggling scoring goals," said Pacioretty. "We've been struggling trying to put 60 minutes together. We came out slow but we found a way to bounce back after a bad start. Carey (Price) bailed us out early in the game and I think we took it from there."
The Canadiens are now home for two straight and they will host Florida on Monday. Montreal has identical 12-7-2 records at both home and on the road this season.
01/04 10:32:48 ET