The Montreal Canadiens are off to the best start in franchise history, but adding to it will take a win over the league’s next-hottest team.
The St. Louis Blues head to the Bell Centre on Tuesday night seeking a fifth straight win as they conclude a six-game road trip, while the Canadiens try for their first seven-game winning streak in 10 seasons.
Montreal (6-0-0) had never won more than four straight to begin a season, and it last won seven in a row as part of an eight-game run near the end of 2005-06.
A 4-1 home win over Detroit on Saturday was the Canadiens’ fifth multigoal victory, though it required them to come from behind for the first time. Brendan Gallagher had a goal and an assist, while Max Pacioretty and Andrei Markov upped their league-best ratings to plus-8.
"We got some bounces tonight, and it just proves that when you do good things good things happen. We were maybe a little sluggish at the start, but it’s good that we’re picking things up as the game goes on," Pacioretty told the team’s official website. "We’re inspired to keep getting better even with this great start."
The Canadiens haven’t been giving up many chances with 25 shots or fewer allowed in four of six, and their 26.5 per game is near the top of the league. St. Louis’ 25.0 mark leads the way.
Montreal’s penalty kill has also been strong, thwarting all 14 over the last four games, and its 90.5 percent rate is among the league leaders.
Unsurprisingly, those numbers have Carey Price cruising along. The reigning Hart and Vezina Trophy winner has a 1.20 goals-against average and .957 save percentage in five games.
He’s 3-3-2 with a 2.68 GAA against the Blues but helped the Canadiens to wins in both games last season with a 1.50 GAA and .951 save percentage.
Those victories came by three goals each, though St. Louis had won the previous five matchups and past four at the Bell Centre. Gallagher has three goals in his last three games against St. Louis.
The Blues (5-1-0) will go with Jake Allen, who’s started 1-1-0 with three goals allowed in each. He was given the starting job last postseason, but Brian Elliott has started four games this season and shown a bit more. Allen played both games against the Canadiens in 2014-15 with a 4.51 GAA and .830 save percentage.
St. Louis has been consistent with four goals in each game on its winning streak, and Sunday’s two-goal victory in Winnipeg included two from Vladimir Tarasenko. The 37-goal scorer from a season ago is off to a strong start with five goals and four assists.
The team weathered four games in six days before getting Monday off, but road success has become almost expected with a Western Conference-best 41 points dating to Jan. 3. The Canadiens, though, are tied for an NHL-best home point total since two weeks after that with 34.
"It’s a tough road trip. We had something like three games in 72 hours," Tarasenko said. "We have one more game against an unbeaten team. We have some time to rest right now and then go home after."
Coach Ken Hitchcock said the final 20 minutes against the Jets bode well heading into a tough matchup.
"The third period was the best period we’ve played on the road all season," Hitchcock told the team’s official website.
St. Louis’ Paul Stastny will miss this game after suffering a lower-body injury Friday in Vancouver. The Blues lost Kevin Shattenkirk and Robby Fabbri earlier on the trip.