Coming off a 2-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens head into a crucial three-game week with games in Pittsburgh Tuesday and Boston Wednesday, before playing the New York Rangers Saturday at the Bell Centre.
The Habs earned only a single point in two games last week against a Sabres squad that has been lifeless for much of the season.
A win Saturday would have tightened the Canadiens’ grasp on first place in the Northeast Division because the second-place Boston Bruins lost 3-2 in Toronto on Saturday. The Canadiens remain two points ahead of Boston, but the Bruins have a game in hand.
The Canadiens were given the day off Sunday and will practise Monday at 11 a.m. in Brossard.
While the Canadiens were resting Sunday, a Habs alumni team took on a team of former NHL stars in a legends game at the Bell Centre in front of more than 10,000 fans. One of the oldtimers in bleu-blanc-rouge was Alex Kovalev, who only retired from the NHL last week.
Kovalev lasted only 14 games with the Florida Panthers after signing a one-year contract, posting 2-3-5 totals. He said the decision to retire wasn’t his.
“I didn’t have a choice. That’s what has kind of been the frustrating part,” Kovalev told reporters after the legends game.
The 40-year-old Kovalev, who has said in the past he’d like to play until he’s 50, said he was now hoping to find a job “somewhere in Europe”, probably Switzerland.
When asked about his time with the Canadiens. Kovalev said: “I liked every second of it.”
He added: “At this point, you can say I made a bad decision going to Ottawa instead of staying in Montreal (after the 2008-09 season). Maybe I would still be playing here.”