The Montreal Canadiens are in danger of their first three-game losing streak, and the struggles have been more about a lack of scoring than anything felt from the absence of Carey Price.
They've had no problem beating Boston in recent seasons, and the Bruins visit Wednesday night with the Canadiens hoping to right things with an eighth straight regular-season win in the series.
Coach Michel Therrien is also taking it as an opportunity to rework his team's lines as it continues to try to find the right mix in the absence of injured wingers Brendan Gallagher, Devante Smith-Pelly and Torrey Mitchell.
Sven Andrighetto, who scored in Saturday's 3-2 loss in Carolina, was moved to the top line Tuesday with Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk. The 22-year-old Andrighetto has three goals in seven games this season, and a line shuffling comes as no surprise with Montreal scoring two regulation goals in each game over a 2-2-1 span.
“I was really excited, and I'm still excited. To play alongside Pacioretty, one of the best players in the league is huge for me,” Andrighetto told the team's official website. “… Personally it doesn't change a lot for my game. I have to be consistent in what I do, bring my speed to the line and still focus on the little details. Just keep it simple and it will all work out well.”
Montreal (19-6-3) beat Boston 4-2 in the first two meetings this season and has won the last six by at least two goals. The Canadiens have won 12 of 13 in the series with 3.31 goals per game.
“The first time that we played against them, we didn't have a good game at all,” Boston's Ryan Spooner told the team's official website. “Last game, I actually thought it was one of our best games of the year. They're skilled and they're fast, so as a team I think we have to try and slow them down and be good in the neutral zone. So I think that's our focus.”
Montreal's Lars Eller has three goals in the first two meetings, Thomas Plekanec and David Desharnais have scored in both, and Pacioretty has five goals and four assists over the six straight multigoal wins. Galchenyuk has five assists in this season's meetings as he grows accustomed to playing center. That'll again evolve alongside new linemates.
“I'm definitely very excited to play with Patch, he's a great player to play with,” Galchenyuk said. “I think both of those guys are really quick, so it will be my job to create that space for them and make sure that I find a way to give them the puck when they are at top speed.”
Boston (14-9-3) remains 10 points back of the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens after Monday's 3-2 home loss to Nashville. The Bruins blew two leads, particularly unacceptable considering chances have been limited with 39 shots in the last two games.
“It was tough,” Spooner said. “… I mean, 17 shots or something like that is definitely not enough when they had like 34 or something like that.”
Jonas Gustavsson faced the Predators, so Tuukka Rask figures to return after shutting out Vancouver on Saturday to improve to 4-0-2 with a 1.71 goals-against average since last losing in regulation. Rask has a 2.89 GAA and .901 save percentage over a 1-8-2 span in the Montreal series.
The Canadiens will again start Mike Condon, who is 2-2-1 with a 2.22 GAA since Price went down Nov. 25 with his latest lower-body injury. The rookie made 29 saves in the latest win over Boston on Nov. 7.
- Alex Galchenyuk
- Boston Bruins
- Brendan Gallagher
- Carey Price
- David Desharnais
- Devante Smith-Pelly
- Jonas Gustavsson
- Lars Eller
- Max Pacioretty
- Mike Condon
- Montreal Canadiens
- Ryan Spooner
- Sven Andrighetto
- Torrey Mitchell
- Tuukka Rask