Koivu returns to Montreal as Ducks take on Habs
Friday, 01.21.2011 / 8:20 PM
DUCKS (26-20-4) at CANADIENS (27-17-4)
TV: CBC, RDS (HD), PRIME (HD)
Last 10: Anaheim 7-3-0; Montreal 7-1-2
Season series: This is the only meeting of the 2010-11 season between these clubs. In their most recent matchup, Montreal claimed a 4-3 win in Anaheim on March 7, 2010, as Tomas Plekanec beat Jonas Hiller in the fourth round of a shootout. Plekanec also scored in regulation to start the Canadiens back from a 3-0 deficit.
Big story: Saku Koivu was taken by Montreal in the first round of the 1993 Entry Draft. He played 13 seasons for the Canadiens, recorded 191 goals and 641 points, was the longtime captain of the team and successfully battled cancer during his time there. Koivu is now in his second season with Anaheim and will return to the Bell Centre for the first time Saturday night.
"I think we were able to build a special bond and relationship with the people of Montreal," he said. "They were behind me and supported me throughout my career and I don't expect anything but a positive reaction."
The situation was slightly different for Anaheim when it played in Toronto on Thursday -- in this case it was the Ducks facing a former teammate with a significant history, goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere. He won a Conn Smythe in 2003 and the Stanley Cup in 2007, but now he's a Maple Leaf and he stopped 26 shots to defeat his old club by a 5-2 score. Dan Sexton
and Brandon McMillan
staked the Ducks to one-goal leads that didn't last.
"We played about 12 minutes of hockey tonight," coach Randy Carlyle said. "You can't play 12 minutes of hockey and expect to win in the NHL."
Contributions from all over the lineup led Montreal to a 7-1 rout of Ottawa on Friday night, drawing the Canadiens to within one point of the Bruins for the Northeast Division lead. Plekanec scored twice, Benoit Pouliot had a goal in his return to the lineup after missing a pair of games with the flu and Max Pacioretty, knocked out of the previous game with bruised ribs, connected on the power play. Carey Price finished with 33 saves.
"Everyone in this league plays hurt every night," said Pacioretty, who also assisted on Gionta's goal. "There's not much I have to say about that but you do what you can to help this team win games and I think tonight I did a pretty good job of that."
Who's hot: Lubomir Visnovsky
has 3 goals and 9 assists in his last 10 games for the Ducks and is tied for third among NHL defensemen with 40 points. … Plekanec has 4 goals and 2 assists over his last six games for the Canadiens. P.K. Subban has 2 goals and 3 assists over his last five games. Andrei Kostitsyn has 3 goals and 1 assist over his last four games.
Anaheim has forwards Ryan Getzlaf
(nasal/sinus fractures) and Aaron Voros
(broken orbital bone) on injured reserve. … Montreal forward Michael Cammalleri is out of the lineup with a shoulder injury suffered earlier this week against Buffalo.
Stat pack: Corey Perry
and Teemu Selanne
are each averaging a point per game this season -- Perry has played in all 50 contests for the Ducks, while Selanne has suited up 41 times. … Plekanec tied Canadiens captain Brian Gionta, who scored once on Friday, for the team lead with 16 goals.
Regardless of who wins or whether Koivu scores any points, don't be shocked if his name gets called as first star following the game. A trio of Montreal fans started a Facebook group entitled "Vote Saku Koivu
1st star" that directs fans to the team's website where they can register and cast one vote for the top three players Saturday.