Habs host Senators with Atlantic lead still at stake

OTTAWA -- Even though he missed a couple games this week with a lower body injury, Craig Anderson could conceivably start between the pipes for the second time in 24 hours when the Ottawa Senators try to catch the Montreal Canadiens for first place in the Atlantic Division on Sunday night.

Senators coach Guy Boucher has "zero" reservations about using his injury prone 35-year old No. 1 goalie in back-to-back games if he is told Anderson is good to go.

"That's the advantage we have ... he's missed three months, so he's not tired. I know that," said Boucher, referring to the time Anderson was away to be with his wife as she battles cancer. "So it's more a medical thing. What he had, has it got worse, is it the same. If it's good then we're OK.

"It depends on the goaltender coach, and the medical staff to tell me that everything is good. If it's good, he's in."

If not, Mike Condon will start against his old team as the Senators (39-23-8) try to pass the Canadiens (40-23-8). A win at Bell Centre on Sunday puts the Senators in first based on the fact they have played one fewer game.

The Canadiens defeated the Senators 4-3 in a shootout Saturday night in Ottawa.

"We know they are going to be disappointed with the outcome tonight so we've got to expect an angry team tomorrow night," Canadiens winger Andrew Shaw said after the game. "We know what they are capable of, they go out there and work with speed."

All three meetings this season ended with 4-3 on the scoreboard, while two of them have gone to a shootout. The Senators wound up on top in the first two, with Erik Karlsson scoring the winner in both.

Asked how he feels about the Senators, who the Canadiens will also face at Bell Centre next Saturday, Montreal winger Brendan Gallagher said: "A little bit of hate and a lot of respect."

Similar sentiments were coming from the Senators dressing room in conversations about the Canadiens.

The Canadiens are 1-0 against Ottawa this season with Claude Julien behind the bench. The fired Michel Therrien was their coach for the first two losses.

"I think we did a good job there," Julien said when asked about facing the Senators trapping defensive system. "We talked about it before the game. I thought that was a key because if you don't manage the puck well through the neutral zone against this team, they will make you pay for it."

Julien wouldn't reveal his starting goalie for Sunday, but it's believed he'll go with Carey Price for the second night in a row. Price stopped 28 shots Saturday, while Anderson made 29 saves.

"It's important to park that thing," Julien said of Saturday's win. "We can enjoy it tonight. When you say enjoy, you can always enjoy a win.

"When we come back to work tomorrow morning, we have to be focused on what we need to do, focused on the things we need to do better. Right now those guys put a lot of energy in the game. I'll let them relax and tomorrow morning we'll get right back at it."