Last 10: Ottawa 4-4-2; Montreal 4-3-3
Season series: This is the sixth and final meeting this season between these Northeast Division rivals separated by just 120 miles. The Canadiens are 3-0-2 against the Senators, with both of the matchups in Montreal ending in a shootout. In their most recent game last Friday at Scotiabank Place, Filip Kuba scored in overtime to give the Senators a 3-2 win.
Big Story: Despite losing four of its last five, Ottawa is just a few wins away from clinching a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs — and the Senators will get starting goaltender Craig Anderson back after he missed the past month with lacerated pinky finger on his right hand.
Senators: What appeared like an inevitable playoff berth just a couple of weeks ago suddenly isn't quite so cut and dried for the Senators. Occupying the seventh spot in the East heading into Friday's game, Ottawa's 84 points give it a four-point cushion ahead of ninth-place Buffalo. Following a disappointing 3-1 loss to the provincial rival Maple Leafs on Saturday, the Sens hoped to put some more space between themselves and the pack Tuesday night against the Devils.
Hosting New Jersey, the Senators fired 34 shots at goaltender Johan Hedberg, but were unable to find the back of the net. In a game that saw the two teams combine for 68 shots, Ilya Kovalchuk's second-period goal was the only offence. In the end, despite five players firing four or more shots at the New Jersey net, the Senators came out on the wrong side of a 1-0 affair.
Canadiens: With a recent 3-0-3 stretch that saw the return from injury of franchise defenseman Andrei Markov, the Canadiens looked poised to play spoiler in the final month of the season before ultimately missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Looking to build off that string of competitive play, the Habs entered Buffalo on Wednesday night looking to dent the Sabres' playoff hopes.
While the Canadiens did manage 34 shots, Sabres netminder Ryan Miller did not need to make too many highlight-reel stops, earning his sixth shutout of the season by a 3-0 final. Cody Hodgson earned his first two goals since coming to Buffalo at the trade deadline and Jason Pominville scored his team-leading 28th goal of the season to provide Miller with all the offence he would need.
Who's Hot:Colin Greening has been an offensive sparkplug for Ottawa, scoring three goals in his last four games. Erik Karlsson has five points in his last five games … For the Canadiens, P.K. Subban has seven points in his last eight games.
Injury Report: Jesse Winchester (concussion) and Peter Regin (shoulder surgery) are on Ottawa's IR, while Jason Spezza missed Tuesday's game with flu symptoms but is likely to play tonight … For Montreal, Brian Gionta (bicep surgery), Raphael Diaz (lower body), Mathieu Darche (dizziness), and Travis Moen (upper body) are on IR, while Scott Gomez (concussion) and Tomas Kaberle (upper body) are questionable.
Stat Pack: While Montreal is 2-1 against Ottawa in games that have gone beyond regulation time, the team hasn't fared well in extra time. Only Carolina and Calgary have lost more games in overtime and the shootout than Montreal's 13 defeats. Ottawa has gone 10-10 in overtime/shootout games, but the Canadiens could be in a tough situation if this game goes to extra time, as Montreal is 3-9 at home this season in overtime/shootout games.
Puck Drop: "I just want to get back in and give the team a chance to win, just like the other guys have done so far," Anderson told the Senators' website after practicing on Thursday. Ottawa coach Paul MacLean confirmed Thursday that Anderson will be his starting goaltender against Montreal.