montreal canadiens vs anaheim ducks nhl habsMatch Up:

The Canadiens (5-4-0) play host to Saku Koivu and the Ducks (7-2-0) Thursday night at the Bell Centre. The game is set to start at 7:30 and airs on RDS and TSN-Habs.

This is the first of two games between the Habs and Ducks this season. The Canadiens haven’t hosted the Ducks in Montreal since January 22, 2011. Anaheim won that game 4-3 in shootout, with the Habs scoring a late third period goal to force overtime while Koivu was in the box serving his third penalty of the night.

What to Watch:

The return of Saku Koivu to Montreal for just the second time since he left the Habs prior to the start of the 2009-10 season will likely overshadow the game itself. Koivu has struggled recently, going his last 5 games without a point.

PK Subban picked up another assist in Tuesday’s loss to the Oilers, bringing him up to a 9 assists and 11 points this year. Subban leads all defenseman in both categories. Brendan Gallagher scored his fifth goal of the season on Tuesday, he’s now tied with Lars Eller for the team lead.

The Ducks have three players with 9 points in 9 games, including new addition Matthieu Perrault. The Drummondville native spent his first four seasons in the league with the Capitals before being traded this preseason. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf also have 9 points each.

What’s at Stake:

The Canadiens suffered back-to-back losses for the first time this season and will be looking to put an end to their losing streak before it goes any farther. The Habs are just one game over .500 right now, but after their losses to Edmonton and Nashville, they now have a losing record on home ice.

Who’s Out:

Jarred Tinordi, who was a healthy scratch Tuesday, was sent down to the Hamilton Bulldogs on Wednesday, meanwhile, Greg Pateryn was called up. The Habs are still without Max Pacioretty (hamstring), Douglas Murray (upper body), Daniel Briere (concussion), Brandon Prust (upper body), Alexei Emelin (knee), George Parros (concussion) and Davis Drewiske (shoulder).

The Ducks are dealing with a fair amount of injuries of their own, goalie Viktor Fasth (lower body), forwards Dustin Penner (upper body) and Matt Beleskey (thumb), and defenseman Luca Sbisa (ankle) and Sheldon Souray (Wrist) are all out for Anaheim.

What Else:

When Saku Koivu returned from his battle against cancer in April 2002, Michel Therrien was the Canadiens coach at the time. Wednesday, he had this to say of the emotional moment when Koivu was greeted by an 8-minute ovation from the Bell Centre faithful:

What I remember the most is the ovation the Canadiens fans gave him, I wasn’t behind the bench at the time, I had to go in the back because emotionally, that was a special moment. It is such an important moment in my life that I have a photo of that in my house to remind me of that day. There are moments in your life that stay with you, and his return stayed with me.

The Question Mark:

There’s no Twitter question for today, feel free to use the comments section below to express your love for Saku Koivu.

Be sure to tune into the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show an hour before the puck drop and the Post Game Show 5 minutes after the final siren. Join the live conversation by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.