Canadiens-Senators Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 30, 2013
A healthy Andrei Markov is one of the big reasons the Montreal Canadians are on the verge of their longest winning streak in two years. The Ottawa Senators are looking to continue their own momentum and it may be without Jason Spezza again. Markov attempts to stay hot as the Canadiens go for a five-game winning streak by continuing their success against the Senators in this Northeast Division matchup Wednesday night. Injuries limited Markov to 65 games over the last three seasons, including 13 in 2011-12. Most of his problems stem from a problematic right knee that underwent two ACL surgeries. So far, he's putting all of that behind him. The defenseman has accumulated all of his seven points during Montreal's four-game winning streak, and all of that production has come on the power play. Markov set up two goals on the man-advantage to spur Tuesday's 4-3 win over Winnipeg, assisting on the eventual winner by Tomas Plekanec early in the third period. "I remember back when we played with Kovy (Alex Kovalev) and Marky (Markov) and I think we were first in the league two years in a row," Plekanec said of the power-play unit. "I feel it's pretty much the same now. "He has a huge impact on our team, not only on the power play." Montreal (4-1-0) has one of the most effective power plays in the NHL, converting 8 of 27 chances. If that continues, the Canadiens (4-1-0) could find themselves as winners of five straight for the first time since Feb. 26-March 8, 2011. They're 8-1-3 against the Senators (4-1-1) over the last two seasons, going 4-0-2 in Ottawa. Markov has nine points in his past 12 visits to Scotiabank Place, but hasn't appeared there since an overtime loss Jan. 30, 2010. Plekanec, who has three goals in four games, has 18 points in the last 17 meetings with the Senators, getting 12 in nine on the road. Raphael Diaz is also providing some scoring punch, ranking among the league leaders with seven assists after getting 13 in 59 games as a rookie last season. He had two Tuesday, including one on Plekanec's tally. Diaz's career-high three assists powered a 6-2 victory in his last game at Ottawa on Dec. 27, 2011. The Senators would like to build on the momentum generated from scoring three goals in a row to rally for a 3-2 win over Washington on Tuesday. Sergei Gonchar helped them avoid a three-game slide by capping the comeback with 2:30 left in regulation, netting his first goal of the season. Getting Spezza back may provide a spark for Ottawa, but it is uncertain if he'll play. The star center was out Tuesday with an upper-body injury after getting one point in each of the first five games. He led the team with 84 points last season, and his 34 goals matched a career high. Spezza's 28 goals in 50 games against the Canadians are a career high against any opponent, while his 59 points rank second to his 62 versus Buffalo. He has 16 goals and 16 assists in 23 career home matchups with Montreal. Milan Michalek has started the season with a career-high six-game scoring streak, during which he's managed two goals and four assists. That run may be in jeopardy since he has just two assists in nine home meetings with Montreal in three seasons with the Senators. P.K. Subban will join the Canadiens in Ottawa after signing a two-year, $5.75 million contract on Monday, but it is unclear if the 23-year-old defenseman will play.
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