Sens' Hasek Czechs in

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:39 PM ET

MONTREAL -- Dominik Hasek will face the Habs in a Senators sweater for the first time tonight.

And in two months, he'll be taking on the world wearing his original colours.

Hasek revealed yesterday he spoke with Czech national team coach Alois Hadamczik recently and that, barring injury, he will play for his homeland at the Olympics.

Previously, Hasek had stated he would only go to Italy as the Czechs' No. 1 goalie or backup, and that if Hadamczik saw him as No. 3 on the depth chart, he should Turin to a younger man.

"He watched the game in Boston, we had a conversation, and he told me I'm going to be on the team," said Hasek, who will be 41 when the Games begin in February. "He didn't tell me if I'd be the starting goalie or the backup goalie or what his plans are. It's not official yet, but I'll be on the team, if I'm healthy, of course."

Hasek has been to the Olympics three times -- as the star of a gold- medal winning team in 1998, as well as in 1988 and 2002. He also represented his country in five world championships, but was left off the team in 2004 as the Czechs put their faith in Tomas Vokoun.

The Nashville Predators goalie is having an exceptional season -- with 16-5-2 record, 2.48 goals against average and .920 save percentage -- and most certainly will receive consideration as the Czechs' go-to guy at the Olympics. But if the decision had to be made today, it'd be tough to keep Hasek on the bench.

Heading into last night's action, Hasek had the league's best GAA (1.99) and save percentage (.932).

He also had the second-most wins (17) and shutouts (3).

In his 14th NHL season, Hasek has reclaimed his position as the game's top 'tender -- and he's so not what Montreal needs to be running into right now.

The Canadiens, who expect to get high-flying winger Alexei Kovalev back from injury tonight, have won just four of their last 15 games. They are 0-3 vs. the Senators this season -- each loss to rookie goalie Ray Emery, who has stopped 81 of 86 Montreal shots.

"Ray has played well against Montreal, but I just felt, in our division in particular and depending on matchups at playoff time, I want to give Dom at least one occasion to play against them," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "I want for them to see him and, more importantly, him to see them."

Hasek has seen plenty of Habs teams -- in fact, tonight will be the 38th time he has faced Montreal shooters in his career, officially making the bleu, rouge et blanc his most familiar foe. The only opponent he has stared at as much is the Senators, whom he faced 37 times while playing for Buffalo and Detroit.

Of the 37 games against the Habs to date, Hasek has a 21-10-4 record, with a 2.11 GAA and five shutouts.

He says this Habs team skates better than those he's faced in the past.

"You always pay attention to players like (Saku) Koivu or Kovalev or (Michael) Ryder, he's recently become a very good goal scorer, also," said Hasek. "I knew sooner or later I'd play against them."


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