Facing the possibility of losing seven games in a row for the first time in two decades, the Montreal Canadiens return to the site where last season ended earlier than anticipated.
The visiting Canadiens face the Tampa Bay Lightning for the first time since Game 6 of last season's playoff series Monday night.
Montreal (20-14-3) has dropped six straight while being outscored 22-6 and lost 10 of 11 since Dec. 1.
The Canadiens haven't lost seven consecutive games since a slide that bridged two seasons in 1995.
“We're looking, offensively, way too much for the perfect play with no results,” coach Michel Therrien said.
There have been few positive results to speak of through the first four of this season-high eight-game road trip, surrendering 16 goals while giving up the first tally in each.
Montreal gave up the first two goals in a 3-1 loss at Washington on Saturday as its road losing streak reached six games. The Canadiens last lost seven in a row as the visitors while concluding 2011-12.
“When we get scored on first, we have a tendency to slow down and fall apart. The first goal is important. Everyone has to give more,” center David Desharnais told the team's official website. “It's never easy to go through something like this. We have to find a way out of it.”
With Carey Price still out, Montreal acquired what it hopes is a temporary solution in net by getting Ben Scrivens from Edmonton on Monday in exchange for Zack Kassian. Scrivens never even played a game this season for the Oilers, though, going 2-6-1 with AHL Bakersfield. He had a 3.47 goals-against average and .893 save percentage.
The Canadiens will have some added motivation against the Lightning (18-15-3), who eliminated them in the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 4-1 victory May 12. Montreal also lost all five regular-season meetings last season after sweeping Tampa Bay in the opening round of the 2014 playoffs.
Despite the acquisition of Scrivens, rookie Mike Condon will likely be in net for this one.
Condon has lost seven straight starts with a 3.37 goals-against average after stopping 30 of 33 shots against the Capitals. He is trying to avoid being the first Habs goaltender to drop eight straight starts since Jose Theodore did from Nov. 11, 1998 to Feb. 11, 1999.
“It's not really about me or any individual, to be honest. It only matters when you win. It doesn't matter how good you play,” Condon said. “We're working really hard. It's not effort-based. It'll come. We've just got to stay positive.”
Max Pacioretty has 12 goals and nine assists in 30 career matchups with Tampa Bay, including the playoffs. The left wing had Montreal's only goal in Game 6 and finished the series with three goals and two assists.
The Lightning have won four of six games as they search for consistency a season after reaching the Stanley Cup Final. They're starting to find some via the power play, which has gone 6 of 21 the past three games to match its production in 49 attempts over the prior 15 contests.
Tampa Bay scored a season-high three power-play goals while beating Columbus 5-2 on Saturday.
“It's a pretty good example of what it can do to a hockey team if you execute,” said Steven Stamkos, who had two goals and one assist – all on the power play.
Stamkos has five goals in four games after going 10 without one. The captain has 32 points in 35 overall career meetings with Montreal, collecting eight goals and six assists in 11 matchups last season. That includes seven points in the last postseason.
Nikita Kucherov matched Stamkos' point production in the series. The right wing finished with six goals after scoring twice and getting an assist in Game 6.