MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens will be looking to extend their winning streak to five games Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings, losers of six in a row, at Bell Centre in the back half of their home-and-home series.
The Canadiens (12-12-3) will attempt to open their lead over the Red Wings (10-11-5) to four points in the Atlantic Division. The Canadiens moved two points ahead of the Red Wings and into third place in the Atlantic with a 6-3 win in Detroit on Thursday. Detroit holds a game in hand.
Montreal goaltender Carey Price won his fourth game in a row since returning from a lower body injury, which kept him out for 10 games. Price has allowed five goals since his return and has a .962 save percentage.
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“It is a huge boost to our confidence to know Carey is back there,” Montreal forward Alex Galchenyuk told NHL.com. “We all know that if we can put a couple pucks in the net, he’s going to win the game for us.”
Right wing Brendan Gallagher is the hottest Canadien going into the game Saturday. Gallagher had two goals against the Red Wings on Thursday and had eight goals in the month of November to lead the Canadiens.
“We’ve been playing better for a while now, but this has been a huge week for us,” Gallagher said. “We’ve won four games, including some games in our division, and now we get to play Detroit again on Saturday with a chance to get another one at home.”
The Canadiens had a day off Friday.
Canadiens center Jonathan Drouin (lower body injury) and defenseman Shea Weber (upper body) are day-to-day. Drouin scored on a penalty shot in the Canadiens 2-1 win against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, but did not travel to Detroit to play the Red Wings on Thursday. Weber has missed six games.
Five of the Red Wings losses in their current six-game losing streak have come at home, two in overtime. Detroit had a 2-1 lead against the Canadiens on Thursday, but gave up five-straight goals.
“We had the lead, and then we self-destructed a little bit,” Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader told NHL.com. “We’ve had a few games like this, where we give up a couple quick goals and put ourselves in a hole.”
The Red Wings had an optional practice Friday.
“I said to the guys today, it’s hard to win a fight if you can’t take a punch,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill told the Detroit Free Press. “You’ve got to take a punch. I thought the last two games, we didn’t take those punches well enough. Through different parts of the year, and not that long ago, against New Jersey, we came back and had a real good push.
“Life is not about getting knocked down, it’s about getting back up and we have do a way better job of making sure we get back up in those games.”
The Red Wings have been watching their slide down the standings and have seen the Canadiens pass them.
“It’s a tough feeling,” Detroit forward Dylan Larkin told the Free Press. “There is a lot of pressure watching the standings every night. It is crazy how tight it is. We have to stop the bleeding before it gets too bad. … It’s up the guys in this locker room to look in the mirror and find a way to win games.”