Gionta rejoins Habs as they seek fifth straight win

The Sports Network

12/28/2009 11:54:24 AM

(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens will try to extend their winning streak to a season-high five games when they visit the Ottawa Senators for tonight's Northeast Division matchup at Scotiabank Place.

They'll have some additional help as forward Brian Gionta is expected to return from injury for Montreal tonight. Gionta, who has eight goals and five assists this year, has missed the last 21 games with a broken left foot.

The Canadiens are in the midst of their second four-game winning streak of the season, but the club hasn't won five in a row since October 11-20 of last year.

The winning streak has coincided with the start of a seven-game road trip that will take Montreal to the end of the 2009 calendar year. After tonight, the Canadiens, who are 10-9-1 as the guest this year, will visit Tampa Bay and Florida to close out the swing.

The Habs are coming off Saturday's dramatic victory over the rival Toronto Maple Leafs. Jaroslav Halak made a whopping 47 saves and Andrei Kostitsyn scored the game-winner just 34 seconds into overtime, as Montreal nipped Toronto, 3-2, at Air Canada Centre.

Halak has started the last four games for Montreal and will likely get the call over Carey Price again tonight. He has faced 186 shots during the Habs' winning streak and has stopped 180 of them for a stellar .968 save percentage.

Scott Gomez and Tomas Plekanec each scored in regulation for the Canadiens on Saturday.

The Senators, who are one point ahead of Montreal for third place in the Northeast standings, ended a two-game skid with Saturday's close win in Buffalo. The victory helped Ottawa wash away the bad taste left by Wednesday's embarrassing 8-2 loss in Pittsburgh.

Alex Kovalev notched the winner in the shootout on Saturday, as Ottawa topped the Sabres, 3-2, at HSBC Arena. Kovalev began the extra session with a nifty backhander under the crossbar, then Thomas Vanek's shot for Buffalo sailed wide. Mike Fisher followed with a goal, before Tim Connolly's wrister hit Pascal Leclaire in the pads to end the contest.

Ryan Shannon and Chris Neil tallied in regulation for the Senators, who earned their seventh straight victory over the Sabres. Leclaire finished with 20 stops.

"I thought that overall we were pretty solid. In the first period we could have been up a couple goals," said Senators head coach Cory Clouston.

Tonight marks the first of five straight on home ice for the Sens, who are 13-5-3 as the host this year.

The Senators and Montreal have split two meetings this year with each club winning a game on the road. The Habs have taken seven of 10 overall in the series and four of their last five in Canada's capital city.