MONTREAL, CANADA - MARCH 13: Goalie Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens makes a save as teammate Josh Gorges #26 and Guillaume Latendresse #73 of the Ottawa Senators look for a rebound during the NHL game on March 13, 2013 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

Five Q’s: Canadiens-Senators preview

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1. Can Carey Price pull it together?

Price got off to a fantastic start this season, but has been on the decline ever since. Among goaltenders that got at least eight starts in April, only two finished with worse GAA’s than Price’s 3.49. No team can get particularly far in the playoffs without good goaltending — just ask the 2012 Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers — and Montreal isn’t above that. On the plus side, no playoff team scored fewer goals in the regular season than the Sens, and Price was strong against them in the regular season. Perhaps this series is just what he needs to bounce back.

2. What should we expect from Erik Karlsson?

Karlsson playing just two months after cutting his Achilles tendon was surprising, but the fact that he logged over 27 minutes in all three of his games since his return was miraculous. The Sens’ defenseman had four assists over that span. It’s worth noting that New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac, who suffered a similar injury, urged Karlsson not to return so soon while another player that’s been through the same thing, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Sami Salo, predicted that Karlsson would come back stronger than ever. Either way, the Senators aren’t putting any meaningful limits on his playing time and they’re a far more dangerous team now that he’s back.

3. Will Ottawa need Craig Anderson to be brilliant?

Even with the return of Karlsson, the Senators aren’t a team that can win a lot of high-scoring affairs. The Senators were an anemic 27th in the NHL when it came to goals scored per game. Still, if Anderson plays anything like he did in the regular season, that might not be an issue. He missed 18 games in the middle of the season due to a sprained ankle, but stayed strong in his return, finishing first among netminders with a 1.69 GAA and .941 save percentage. The wild card in all of this is goaltender Robin Lehner. The ideal for the Senators would be for the 21-year-old rookie to just observe this series from the bench, but Lehner has been great this season and if Anderson falters, he should be seen as a viable Plan B.

4. Montreal PP or Ottawa PK?

The Ottawa Senators are one of the most undisciplined teams in the NHL, but they could get away with that in the regular season because they also killed penalties better than any other team. When they play Montreal though, they might pay for those mistakes. The Canadiens have gone from one of the worst power-play teams in 2011-12 to the fifth best this season. Getting defenseman Andrei Markov back for a full season after battling knee problems was a huge boost. Markov and fellow Canadiens blueliner P.K. Subban have been two of the league’s most successful players with the man advantage.

5. Will the Sens actually get an advantage at home?

When the Senators hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 20, Senators coach Paul MacLean joked that his goal was to “take the crowd out of it” early, according to The Globe and Mail. The Senators have long struggled to keep fans of opposing loyalties out of their stadium for home games. Given the relative proximity of Montreal, you can bet there will be plenty of Habs fans invading Scotiabank Place to cheer passionately for the visitors.

For all the first-round playoff previews, click here.

Montreal’s Beaulieu facing assault charges

NathanBeaulieu
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Nathan Beaulieu, who made his NHL debut with the Canadiens this season, is facing a pair of assault charges stemming from a house party in Ontario last weekend, according to the London Free Press.

The incident in question also involves Beaulieu’s father, Jacques, who has already been charged two counts of assault.

Here’s more, from the Free Press:

Strathroy Caradoc Police have confirmed the 20-year-old hockey superstar is facing the same set of charges as his dad Jacques Beaulieu — head coach of the Sarnia Sting — in connection with the same incident.

“There’s two victims and [Jacques and Nathan Beaulieu] are each charged with one count of assault against each victim,” said Deputy Chief Mark Campbell.

Nathan Beaulieu is still in Montreal, said Campbell and police are “awaiting his arrival here,” said Campbell. “I think, by later this week he’ll be here.”

The alleged incident occurred at a private residence last Saturday.

According to police, the situation unfolded during a party after a charity golf tournament, and that alcohol was a factor. It’s also being reported one of the victims was a former players of Jacques’.

Nathan, 20, was Montreal’s first-round pick (17th overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

He spent the majority of the year with AHL Hamilton, but was called up during the season and appeared in six games with the Habs, recording two assists while finishing with a plus-5 rating.

Recently, he was one of eight Bulldogs recalled to Montreal to be with the team for the playoffs.

The Canadiens have declined to comment on the situation.

Is playoff action next for Canadiens’ Tinordi?

Montreal Canadiens v New Jersey Devils
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Jarred Tinordi was one of eight call-ups from the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League to the Montreal Canadiens earlier this week, and there is talk the 2010 first-round pick could perhaps see action in the playoffs.

Here is a little bit of what Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette wrote:

Tinordi, 6-foot-6 and 210 (at least) pounds, will be in the lineup Thursday. There will be no word from head coach Michel Therrien until after game-day morning skate on who comes out in his place.

And if Tinordi performs well, it’s possible — perhaps likely — that he’ll see action in the playoffs which begin next week.

“It’s special to be around Montreal during playoff time,” Tinordi told the Montreal Gazette.

“Whether you’re playing or not, you’re excited to be there. But obviously you’re hoping to get a chance to play. So you work hard and wait to see what happens.”

Tinordi, 21, has just six career National Hockey League games to his name, and just one assist in that span.

The Habs seem like a team in need of a spark.
They have a playoff secured but are battling the Boston Bruins for the Northeast Division and the second seed in the Eastern Conference standings. Those two teams are tied at 59 points, although the Bruins have a game in hand.
The Canadiens have also lost five of their last six games.

Montreal snaps three-game losing skid, regains first in Northeast

Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
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The Montreal Canadiens came into tonight’s game on a three-game losing skid and one more poor performance from Carey Price from a full-blown meltdown in Quebec. Fortunately for them, they avoided further worrying tonight.

Brian Gionta scored a power play goal with 47 seconds left in the third period to give the Habs a 3-2 win over the Lightning. Gionta had two goals on the night while Alex Galchenyuk had one in between those tallies.

More importantly for Montreal tonight, Price stood tall stopping 32 shots out of 34.

During Montreal’s three-game skid, Price was getting run out of the building giving up three to the Penguins on Wednesday, six to the Flyers on Monday, and getting chased early last Saturday against Toronto giving up three goals on four shots.

A solid game tonight from Price and a win helps cool fans off who were ready to officially freak out. Seeing the Habs back in first place after ceding control for a day to the Bruins should help chill them out.

Video: Canadiens’ Subban and Penguins’ Morrow fight

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs
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The frustration of what is now a three-game losing streak appears to have gotten the best of Montreal Canadiens’ defenseman P.K. Subban.

Early in the third period, with the Canadiens trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins by three goals, Subban dropped the gloves with Brenden Morrow. Subban managed to get Morrow in a headlock, before the two wrestled their way to the ice.

In the end, Morrow got the last laugh. He scored twice, added an assist and a fight to secure the Gordie Howe Hat Trick and the Penguins earned two points with a 6-4 win.