Canadiens vs. Blues Preview

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ST. LOUIS, MO (AP) - The Montreal Canadiens would usually be thrilled with their longest winning streak of the season, but those feelings have been replaced with concern for Max Pacioretty.

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Their lone season meeting with the last-place St. Louis Blues may stir up other emotions for Carey Price.

In their first game since Pacioretty was hospitalized on a frightening hit, Price will likely find himself starting opposite former teammate Jaroslav Halak for the first time when the Canadiens try for a sixth straight win Thursday night at Scottrade Center.

According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book have made the Canadiens -109 money line favorites for Thursday's game against the Blues. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 94% of more than 712 bets for this game have been placed on the Canadiens -109.

Montreal (37-23-7) beat Boston 4-1 on Tuesday to move within three points of the Northeast Division-leading Bruins. However, the Canadiens would rather focus on Pacioretty, who suffered a fractured fourth cervical vertebra and a concussion when Zdeno Chara checked the left wing into a glass partition at the end of the Bruins' bench late in the second period.

Pacioretty was removed on a stretcher and taken to a hospital, where he remains under observation. Chara will not be suspended or fined after being issued an interference major and a game misconduct.

Pacioretty has career highs of 14 goals and 24 points in 37 games.

"We're all like brothers here. You never want to see something like that happen to someone, whether it's a teammate or an adversary," center Scott Gomez told the Canadiens' official website. "Our main focus right now is Max. We're also doing our best to think about the next game, if nothing else because that's what Max would have wanted."

Montreal might be in favorable position to continue its momentum on the ice as the Blues (30-28-9) have dropped seven of 10 and are at the bottom of the Central.

The Canadiens last won six in a row March 6-16 of last year, and they've won the last two visits to St. Louis, but fell 4-3 in overtime at home in the latest matchup Jan. 20, 2010.

This meeting might provide a little more incentive for Price, who's likely to start opposite Halak for the first time since the Canadiens dealt him to the Blues last summer.

The goaltenders were teammates in Montreal for four seasons, but Halak took the starting job late last season and led the Canadiens to the conference finals before being dealt to the Blues for Lars Eller and a prospect last summer.

The move was greeted with disdain by Canadiens fans, but Price has quelled those concerns by going 32-21-6 with a 2.31 goals-against average and seven shutouts, while Halak is 20-17-6 with a 2.64 GAA.

"With everything that happened to Patch, it's an afterthought right now," said Price, who has won four straight starts with a 1.00 GAA and a shutout.

Halak made 19 saves as St. Louis erased a three-goal, second-period deficit to win 4-3 in overtime at Columbus on Wednesday. It was Halak's return after missing 11 games with an injured right hand.

Chris Stewart scored the tying goal midway through the third period before netting the winner 54 seconds into the extra session. Stewart has nine goals and three assists in 11 games since being acquired from Colorado in the trade that sent defenseman Erik Johnson to the Avalanche.

Eller has four of his seven goals over the last five games after scoring twice Tuesday. The 21-year-old center was drafted 13th overall by St. Louis in 2007.

"'It's going to be a lot of fun," said Eller, who had two goals in seven games last season. "It's something I've looked forward to a long time."

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