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Canadiens scratch veterans Begin, Kostopoulos in search for goals

MONTREAL - Coach Guy Carbonneau is ready to ruffle some feathers in a bid to wake up his sagging Montreal Canadiens.

Veterans Steve Begin and Tom Kostopoulos were told they will sit out Saturday night's game against the Nashville Predators as healthy scratches, while little-used Josh Gorges and Mikhail Grabovsky will see action.

"It's unfortunate that those guys have to pay for it, but Nashville's got a quick team, they'll put a lot of pressure on our defencemen, so we just want a little more speed up front," said Carbonneau.

Mark Streit, who played forward for much of last season but who has been used exclusively on defence so far, will return to the wing.

That move was prompted by concerns about top defenceman Andrei Markov, who is playing through an undisclosed injury. Markov had a season-low 16:53 of ice time in a 4-0 loss in New Jersey on Friday night - the team's third loss in its last four games.

"That's one reason we have seven defencemen in the lineup," added Carbonneau. "When we have days off in between games, he's OK. But two games in two days, we don't know."

After going 6-2-3 in October, the Canadiens were 7-7-0 in November.

"We haven't been on top of our game for the last seven or eight games," added Carbonneau.

If the team doesn't start winning soon, they may call players up from their AHL team in Hamilton, he added.

Begin and Kostopoulos were among a handful of players to take part in an optional skate on Saturday morning.

"He needs to wake the team up and I probably have to give more on the ice - get more points or whatever," said Begin, who was also a scratch for a game on Oct. 16. "I have to work harder and make sure it doesn't happen any more.

"I'm here to bring energy and probably that's what I haven't done lately. That's all I can say."

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