Habs seek to end homestand with win over Senators

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(SportsNetwork.com) - The Montreal Canadiens have a chance at securing eight of a possible 10 points on their homestand, but may be without their leading scorer for the finale on Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators.

The Canadiens lost Max Pacioretty to an upper-body injury in Thursday's 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks as the forward was hit from behind into the boards in the third period. Pacioretty did not return as he was sent to the hospital for precautionary reasons.

Head coach Michel Therrien labeled Pacioretty as day-to-day on Friday, with his status for this game unknown. Pacioretty leads Montreal with 13 goals and 25 points.

"Patch is very important to our lineup. He's kind of our biggest offensive threat, a guy that other teams have to be aware of," said Habs forward Brendan Gallagher of Pacioretty. "But whether he's out of the lineup or we get him back right away, it doesn't change the way everyone needs to play.

"I think we've had that next-man-up mentality, and whether he is in or whether he's not, we still have to do all the things we talk about doing. ... It would be nice to have him in there."

Montreal had won the first three of its five-game homestand that wraps tonight before the loss to Anaheim. David Desharnais scored and Carey Price made 23 saves.

"It was a good game. We competed," said Therrien. "We had good scoring chances. I liked our work ethic against a first place team. But we just didn't score on the chances we had."

The Canadiens, who begin a span of five straight on the road Tuesday, are expected to have forward Lars Eller back in the lineup for the first time since he suffered an upper-body injury on Dec. 5. Eller's return will shift Desharnais from center to the wing on a line with P.A. Parenteau.

Price, meanwhile, figures to get the start tonight in the first of four meetings this season with the Senators. He is 16-6-4 versus the club with a 2.35 goals against average, .921 save percentage and three shutouts.

The Canadiens are 5-1-2 in their last eight versus the Senators overall and 6-0-2 in the previous eight meetings at home.

Ottawa, meanwhile, has begun to turn things around under new head coach Dave Cameron, going 3-1-1 since he replaced a fired Paul MacLean on Dec. 8. The Senators picked up a 6-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night, giving the club two straight wins for the first time since Nov. 4-6.

Mike Hoffman scored twice in the victory, while Kyle Turris and Mika Zibanejad had a goal and an assist each. Milan Michalek and Mark Stone added goals and Craig Anderson posted 30 saves.

"Things went real good for everyone today," said Cameron. "When they're all on their games they all bring different dimensions to the game."

Ottawa has not won three in a row since a season-high four-game run from Oct. 11-18 and Cameron could give Robin Lehner the start in net tonight.

Lehner is 1-0-2 in four previous meetings with the Canadiens including three starts, posting a 2.83 GAA and .931 save percentage.