Canadiens-Blue Jackets Preview
After a strong opening month, the Montreal Canadiens haven't been able to continue that success in November.
The last-place Columbus Blue Jackets have had an even rougher go of it lately, and will be without one of their top scorers for at least a month.
The Canadiens and Blue Jackets both try to get on track Friday night at Nationwide Arena.
Columbus' Marian Gaborik sprained his left knee in Thursday's 3-2 overtime loss at Boston and will miss four to six weeks. Gaborik shares the team lead with five goals and has six assists in 17 games this season.
Sitting at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, the Blue Jackets (6-10-2) return home looking to avoid a third consecutive loss. Sergei Bobrovsky, who has surrendered at least three goals in five of his last six starts, let in the game-ending tally with 49 seconds left in OT.
"It feels the same. It's still an empty feeling," coach Todd Richards said. "There were a lot of good things in the third period, but it's still the result. You know, we need to win games and we need two points here, not just one."
Montreal (9-8-2) compiled an 8-5-0 record in October but hasn't seen much go its way since, scoring just 12 goals during a 1-3-2 stretch. The Canadiens came up short again Tuesday in a 2-1 shootout loss to Tampa Bay.
Daniel Briere scored in his first game back after missing 10 with a concussion, but Montreal was outshot 45-29 and went 0 for 3 on the power play.
"We caught ourselves chasing, we weren't supporting the play, we weren't supporting the puck," defenseman Josh Gorges said. "When you do that, you just end up skating all over the place. If you don't play with that extra grit, that intensity, jumping onto loose pucks, being first on pucks, that's what happens."
Carey Price delivered another impressive performance but dropped to 3-5-2 with a 2.18 goals-against average in his last 10 starts.
"It would've been nice to win. That's for sure," he told the team's official website. "I think you have to take the positives out of it. You got a point. I think we all know that we could play better. When you play a bad game, you just have to put it behind you and move on to the next one."
Despite Price's recent play, the Canadiens are planning to go with backup Peter Budaj against the Blue Jackets. Budaj, who is 2-1-0 with a 1.34 GAA and one shutout in limited action, has recorded a 2.01 GAA in seven career games at Columbus.
"I'm just going to be ready. It's a big game for us. Our last six games, we don't really have a good record," Budaj said. "We need to improve. We know that we need to win. We know that we have to pick up points. Every point is huge. Columbus is a tough team to play against. They've got a Vezina Trophy-winning goalie (in Bobrovsky), so we've got to be ready."
Bobrovsky wasn't very sharp in a 5-3 loss at Montreal on Oct. 17, giving up a season high-tying four goals. Tomas Plekanec scored twice for the Canadiens and P.K. Subban notched two assists in that game.
Montreal could be in for another high-scoring display against a Blue Jackets team that has given up 28 goals during a 1-5-2 stretch.