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You have to wonder if the bad blood that has been up this season will boil over Saturday night at the Canadian Tire Centre.

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As the Ottawa Senators prepare to face the Montreal Canadiens in their final Hockey Night in Canada appearance this season, you have to wonder if a scene right out of the move Slapshot may happen before our very eyes.

That’s probably overselling it but this one is intriguing.

The last time the Senators faced the Habs was April 5 when Ottawa skated to an easy 6-3 victory over Montreal at the Bell Centre. There was no shortage of words exchange after the game ended following a vicious knee-on-knee hit by Nick Suzuki on Ottawa center Tim Stuetzle in the second period.

While Stuetzle finished that night and was on the power play after the hit, he missed the club’s next two games with a knee injury. Though Suzuki apologized to Stuetzle in the faceoff circle after getting out of the box, the post-game press conference from Brendan Gallagher was something to behold.

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The veteran Gallagher accused the 20-year-old Stuetzle of being a diver after the game and that he has left a sour taste in the Ottawa room. The club didn’t like the insinuation from Gallagher especially when Stuetzle was injured on the play.

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Naturally, Gallagher throwing darts at anybody is rich. He has earned a reputation as a pain to play against, but he has never been afraid to be slow getting up off the ice to see if he can draw a penalty call from the officials.

Those will serve as a backdrop as the Senators and Habs face each other for the fourth and final time. Ottawa has a 1-2-0 record against Montreal this year and the club would like to even up the series before the Senators wrap up the season next week in Philadelphia.

We don’t think there will be ambulances circling the building or there’ll be a line brawl, but it wouldn’t surprise to see the Senators send some kind of a message to Gallagher and the Habs’ bench because the club isn’t happy with the treatment of a Stuetzle, who will be a superstar down the road.

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Coach DJ Smith noted Thursday before facing the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday at Nationwide Arena he feels Gallagher’s words have changed the approach by the officials towards Stuetzle. It’s fair to say he’s being targeted and Smith feels the officials may be turning a blind eye to calls.

“Unfair comments were made about him diving or drawing penalties so now guys are running him and penalties haven’t been called so it’s unfortunate,” Smith said Thursday morning.

“He’s a young guy that takes a lot of pride and he’s been forced to miss games with these injuries. He (didn’t) practice (Thursday) and I watched him limp around just trying to get breakfast.”

Stuetzle took a hard hit from Travis Dermott in the club’s 4-3 shootout victory over Vancouver Tuesday at Rogers Arena. There was no call on the play and Stuetzle went to the dressing room for the rest of the second. He returned in the third, missed Thursday’s skate, but did suit up against Columbus.

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This game doesn’t mean anything in the standings but games between the Habs and the Senators are never meaningless. The two have a natural rivalry that goes all the way back to the club’s 5-3 victory over Montreal on Oct. 8, 1992 at the Ottawa Civic Center when the Senators returned to the NHL.

That’s why every time the puck drops between these two teams there’s so much anticipation. Montreal is only a two-hour drive away and fans from both cities like to flock to each other’s arenas which helps feed the energy on both benches and can make it feel like a playoff atmosphere.

The Senators are expecting a strong crowd as they open their final three-game home stand of the regular season.

Captain Brady Tkachuk has a special ability to get under the skin of Habs’ players and leaves every scrum with a smile on his face while chewing on his mouth guard.

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Naturally, the best way for the Senators to serve notice with two points on the scoreboard once the final buzzer sounds, but the club can also send a message to the Habs by making their presence felt physically.

Former Senators’ tough-guy Chris Neil was never afraid to drop the gloves, but he also got the point across by finishing a check or having a word or two with an opponent he thought may be taking liberties on teammates’ Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza or Erik Karlsson.

With Josh Brown dealt to the Boston Bruins at the deadline and the club not really wanting Tkachuk to drop the gloves, the job may fall on rugged winger Austin Watson to let Gallagher and his teammates know that shenanigans with top players aren’t acceptable.

We’ll see what happens but this date has been circled on the calendar since the fireworks in Montreal the last these two teams met. Gallagher did a lot of talking after the last game, we’ll find out if that results in any action.

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