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The Montreal Canadiens didn't have an answer for Daniel Alfredsson in their last game. They'd better come up with a better defensive performance if they want to slow down one of the Western Conference's best teams.
Looking to bounce back from one of their worst games of the season, the Canadiens meet the streaking Detroit Red Wings on Monday in the first matchup between the Original Six clubs at Joe Louis Arena since October, 2002.
Montreal (25-15-5) had won two in a row before being routed by Ottawa 8-3 on Saturday. Alfredsson had season highs with four assists and five points for the Senators, who moved within one point of the second-place Canadiens in the Northeast Division.
"The first couple of shifts were pretty good, then what happened after that ..." Montreal captain Saku Koivu said. "There's no explanation or reason for that. It's not a slap in the face. It's a punch in the face."
The Canadiens capped a season-high five-game winning streak with 4-2 victory over Philadelphia on Dec. 21. But since then, they've gone 4-7-0 and scored just 11 goals in the defeats compared to 17 goals in the wins.
"I don't think we've played our best in the last two or three weeks," said Koivu, who has only five assists in his last eight games and one goal in his last 12. "It's not going to get any easier. We've got to find a way to start winning again if we want to be one of the top teams."
Based on his history, Koivu likely won't end his scoring woes in this contest. In eight career games against Detroit -- seven of them Montreal losses -- Koivu has just two goals and two assists.
The Red Wings (28-12-5), meanwhile, have been on a scoring tear, recording 15 goals during a three-game winning streak. Jason Williams had two goals, and All-Star reserve Henrik Zetterberg added three assists in Detroit's 6-3 win over Chicago on Saturday to start a three-game homestand.
Williams, who had been recently benched, scored the go-ahead goal in the second and added a goal in the third. Both tallies came on the power play.
"We sat him out a while ago and I think he's really bounced back from it," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
Zetterberg has a goal and seven assists in a four-game points streak, but a nearly month-long hot streak has him headed to Dallas next week to make his All-Star debut. Starting with an assist in a 5-0 victory over Columbus, Zetterberg has points in 12 of 13 games, totaling five goals and 12 assists in that span.
Zetterberg had 12 goals but only 19 points in his previous 32 games this season.
One player not headed to the All-Star game as of now is six-time Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Dominik Hasek, who was neither voted in by the fans nor selected as a reserve. Hasek leads the league with a 2.03 goals-against average and is tied with Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff for second with five shutouts.
Kiprusoff and the Stars' Marty Turco were selected to back up starter Roberto Luongo of Vancouver.
"I'm disappointed," said Hasek, a six-time All-Star. "I thought I was going to be there."
Hasek, who didn't start Saturday, is 5-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA in his last five home games.
Detroit defenseman Mathieu Schneider has missed three straight games with a knee injury. Now in his 18th season, Schneider played for Montreal from 1987-95.
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