Canadiens-Predators Preview

Coach Michel Therrien is at a loss when attempting to explain

the recent struggles of the Montreal Canadiens, who are having

plenty of issues finding the back of the net.

They’ll look to get on track as they make the second stop on

their six-game road trip when the face the Nashville Predators on

Saturday night.

Montreal (21-13-3) has dropped four of six, scoring one goal or

none in five of those contests. As an indication of how woeful the

Canadiens’ offense has been lately, P.K. Subban has recorded only

two assists over his last nine games but is one of two defensemen –

along with Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson – to lead his team in points.

“It’s hard to explain,” Therrien said after Thursday’s 5-1 loss

in St. Louis. “What concerns me was there weren’t a whole lot of

players who came ready to play. We talk and we talk and we talk.

Every player is responsible for preparing himself to play and

coming ready to come out with a lot more determination.”

Montreal has allowed the first goal five times during its slump.

Brendan Gallagher scored the team’s lone goal Thursday.

“We’ve had slow starts. I don’t know if it’s preparation for the

start of it or getting that desperation up right away,” captain

Brian Gionta said. “Once we’re in a hole we seem to make a push,

but by the way we’ve played the last five or six games, we need to

be desperate right off the bat.”

Though the Canadiens have killed off 37 of 38 penalties over

their last 13, they realize remaining at full strength is a must in

order to boost scoring. They’ve been in the penalty box 10 times

over the last two games.

“We can’t dig ourselves out of those holes if we keep doing

that,” center Tomas Plekanec said. “We killed them, but it’s not

enough. You’re not going to win games just killing off penalties.

We need to be much better overall. It’s just not enough right

now.”

The Canadiens have scored three times while dropping three of

the past four meetings with Nashville, including a 2-1 loss Oct. 19

as Gallagher again scored the lone goal.

Scoring has been a season-long issue for Nashville (16-16-3),

which ranks last in the Western Conference with 80 goals. It has

dropped two straight following a three-game winning streak, falling

3-1 to Chicago on Tuesday and 4-2 to Tampa Bay on Thursday.

Craig Smith scored twice in the second period, but the Lightning

answered less than two minutes after each goal.

“They took some momentum away by scoring just after we did,”

Smith said. “They are a good team, but so are we. They can do some

good things and so can we. They came out on top and converted their

chances.”

Carter Hutton had won each game during the Predators’ winning

streak while posting a 1.33 goals-against average, but he struggled

Thursday before being pulled midway through the second period. It’s

unclear if he’ll be in net for this contest.

“I pulled Hutton because he gave up four goals on 14 shots,”

coach Barry Trotz said. “That’s just too much.”

Carey Price made 35 saves in the first meeting for Montreal, and

he could be in net for this contest. He’s lost each of his three

career starts against Nashville with a 2.35 GAA.