The Ottawa Senators seemed to have little trouble ousting the Montreal Canadiens from the playoffs last season.
Erik Karlsson was one of the key reasons.
Karlsson looks to continue his recent scoring barrage with another strong performance against the Canadiens as the Senators open a five-game homestand Thursday night.
Ottawa (5-6-4) eliminated the Canadiens in five games of their opening round playoff series in May, outscoring them 15-4 while winning the last three games.
Karlsson was a big reason for that success, collecting six points with all of them coming in the victories. He has 19 points in 23 career meetings with Montreal, including playoffs, and he'll likely have an impact on this meeting.
The 2012 Norris Trophy winner leads all defensemen with 17 points, collecting four goals and five assists during a five-game scoring streak.
Karlsson had his first multi-goal game of the season Tuesday, scoring twice in support of Robin Lehner's 32 saves in a 4-1 win at Columbus to end Ottawa's five-game skid.
"It was nice to get this one and, obviously, Robbie played unbelievable and made the stops we needed him to make," Karlsson said. "He's done a good job covering for (Craig Anderson) so far."
Lehner likely would be back in net if Anderson is still struggling with a stiff neck. The veteran goaltender, who had a 1.80 goals-against average against Montreal in the playoffs, suffered the injury when he was kneed in the head during Sunday's 4-3 shootout loss to Dallas.
Lehner is 1-2-2 with a 2.39 goals-against average in six games this season, but lost his only career start against Montreal. He made 42 saves in a 4-3 shootout loss March 13.
The Canadiens may see some changes from coach Michel Therrien after their losing streak reached three with Tuesday's 3-2 shootout defeat to St. Louis.
They haven't dropped four in a row since March 24-31, 2012.
That season, David Desharnais finished with a career-high 60 points, and he's not going to come close in 2013-14 if he can't shake out of his scoring funk. The center has just one point through 15 games, matching his playoff total against the Senators last season.
His lack of production was reason enough for Therrien to scratch him versus the Blues.
"It did me some good to sit out a game out and refocus," Desharnais told the team's official website. "It reminded me how lucky I am to be here and how much I want to be back in the lineup. I'm putting pressure on myself for sure. It's up to me to earn back the trust of the coaching staff."
He could be back in the lineup, potentially on a line with emerging rookie Michael Bournival, who scored his fourth goal Tuesday. The left wing has recorded seven of his eight points at home.
"(Bournival) has shown great things so far. It's easy to play with a guy like that, who keeps things simple," Desharnais said.
Carey Price, who made 30 saves Tuesday, should be back in net since he's 8-0-3 with a 1.50 GAA over his last 11 regular-season meetings with Ottawa. However, he went 1-2-0 with a 3.26 GAA in four games against them in the playoffs, missing the decisive Game 5 due to a lower-body injury.
P.K. Subban had two goals and two assists in that series after totaling eight points over the previous eight regular-season matchups. Last season's Norris Trophy winner is two points behind Karlsson in defensemen scoring after getting four points over the past three games.