In a matchup of teams jockeying for postseason position in the Eastern Conference, the Canadiens look to win their seventh straight regular-season road game against the Flyers on Friday night before hosting them the following evening.
These will be the last two games for both teams before the two-week Olympic break. Montreal (29-26-6) enters this contest following one of its best victories of the season, ending Washington's team-record 14-game winning streak with a 6-5 overtime victory Wednesday.
If that's not reason enough to be confident, the Canadiens have won six straight regular-season games at the Wachovia Center, and have earned points in their last nine such contests there (8-0-1). Montreal leads Philadelphia by one point in the East, with both teams in the middle of a logjam of clubs contending for the conference's last three playoff spots.
The Canadiens are 14-2-1 in the regular season overall versus the Flyers (30-25-3) since the start of the 2005-06 season, but were defeated in five games -- losing both road matchups -- during the conference semifinals in 2008.
The following season, Montreal lost to Boston in the first round. It was the fourth playoff appearance in five seasons for the Canadiens under general manager Bob Gainey, who resigned Monday and was replaced by Pierre Gauthier.
Gauthier swung his first deal Thursday, acquiring center Dominic Moore from Florida for a future draft pick. Moore had eight goals and nine assists in 48 games with the Panthers, and now joins his sixth team since 2003.
The Canadiens also recalled defenseman P.K. Subban from Hamilton of the AHL. Subban, drafted in the second round in 2007, had 11 goals and 28 assists in 52 games for the Bulldogs this season. No defenseman on Montreal currently has more than 28 points.
It's not immediately known if Moore and Subban will be in the lineup, but Tomas Plekanec certainly will be after he scored his second goal of the game with eight seconds to play in the extra session against the Capitals.
The center leads the Canadiens with 43 assists and 60 points, and had two assists in Montreal's 3-1 home victory over Philadelphia on Dec. 7.
Simon Gagne missed that game for the Flyers due to a groin injury. He had gone 12 straight games without finding the back of the net before scoring at 3:27 of OT of a 3-2 victory over New Jersey on Wednesday.
"The team needs goals to win hockey games," said Gagne, who has only eight in 34 games and needs one for 250 in his career. "It's been on my mind the whole time -- this is definitely going to take that big monkey off my back."
The Flyers rallied from a two-goal deficit against the Devils and Canadian Olympic goaltender Martin Brodeur for the second time in three days. In both 3-2 wins, Philadelphia tied it by the end of the second period.
"I think it is a good test to show what we are made of, where this team has come from and where this team needs to get to," Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger said.
Philadelphia will likely give goalie Michael Leighton his fifth straight start. He has played well in place of Ray Emery, who will be rested through the Olympic break as he nurses a tight left hip. Since Dec. 23, Leighton is 10-3-1 with a 2.17 goals-against average.