Golden Knights search for consistency against Canadiens

Former Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty will play his first game in Montreal on Saturday since being traded to the Vegas Golden Knights on the eve of training camp.

Pacioretty, who was the Montreal captain for three seasons beginning in 2015, was traded for forward Tomas Tatar, prospect Nick Suzuki and a second-round draft pick in 2019.

Pacioretty is off to a slow start with his new team with two goals in 12 games. He missed four games after taking a shoulder in the nose from Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn and returned Tuesday in a 3-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Pacioretty had two shots in 20:13 of ice time in the Golden Knights’ 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday in which the Knights lost a 3-0 lead and rebounded for win.

After a trip to the Stanley Cup Final this past spring, the Golden Knights (7-8-1) have been inconsistent. Since winning three games in a row Oct. 13-20, their only consecutive wins this season, they are 3-4-1. They are still without suspended defenseman Nate Schmidt and injured center Paul Statsny.

“We were faced with a lot of adversity early on with injuries and a bit of a tough start and with (Nate Schmidt) being out, but the atmosphere never changed. It says a lot about the culture of this team and why they had success last year,” Pacioretty told Sportsnet.

He said he isn’t surprised by the Canadiens’ good start.

“A lot of guys have really stepped up and bounced back really well,” he said. “That seems to be the case often times in big markets, and then also when there’s less pressure, less expectation. You saw with Vegas last year, with the expectations and how they did. It’s easier to skate down the ice when you don’t have that on your shoulders.”

The Golden Knights had one of their best offensive nights of the season against the Senators. The Knights are 29th in the NHL with an average of 2.38 goals scored per game.

“The puck finally went in the net for us,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant told NHL.com. “So that was really a key for us, to get five goals (Thursday night). Real happy about that, and I thought, for the most part, we had a real good game.”

The Canadiens (8-5-3) lost 6-5 in overtime to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, the fourth game in a row goaltender Carey Price has given up at least four goals in a game.

After a 4-1-1 start, the Canadiens are 4-4-2 in their past 10 games and have lost two games in a row for the first time this season. They are hanging onto third place in the Atlantic Division.

“Let’s just cut to the chase, I just didn’t play very good (Thursday night),” Price told NHL.com. “It’s all upstairs. I’ve got to figure it out.”

Canadiens coach Claude Julien told the league website, “Unfortunately, that position is one that you can really pinpoint because we’ve got players that can play really bad one night, but because they’re surrounded by other players around them it doesn’t show as much. That’s the sad part of a goaltender’s position is that, as you can see, we’re looking more at him when the rest of our team wasn’t any better.”

The Canadiens will be without forward Joel Armia for a second game. He will be out six to eight weeks because of a knee injury.