Senators-Canadiens Preview

With Carey Price set to return to game action, the Montreal Canadiens hope to end their current rough stretch.

The Canadiens are looking to avoid matching a season high with a fourth straight defeat Saturday night against the visiting Ottawa Senators.

Montreal (35-25-7) is 3-4-1 since the Olympic break minus Price, who aggravated a lower-body injury during practice in Sochi before posting an 0.59 goals-against average in helping Canada win its second straight gold medal.

After Price faced some shots in practice earlier this week, the team said Saturday he will make his return to the ice in this contest. He went 4-1-1 with a 1.16 GAA in his final six games before the break.

The Canadiens hold the first wild-card position in the Eastern Conference.

With Peter Budaj and Dustin Tokarski in net the last eight games, they’ve allowed 28 goals – including 13 during the three-game slide. The Canadiens managed to kill all eight penalties in the last two after their opponents went 7 for 22 on the power play in the previous six.

Montreal’s offense, meanwhile, has three goals in three games and is 1 for 21 with the man advantage while losing four of five.

"We’re trying to find solutions about scoring because we create some scoring chances, but we can’t finish right now," coach Michel Therrien told the NHL’s official website. "We will find solutions about chemistry with players and find solutions about putting players that feel comfortable playing together."

Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk each failed to score on first-period breakaway chances during Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to Boston. The Canadiens recorded 36 shots but trailed 4-0 before David Desharnais scored early in the third.

Thomas Vanek assisted on that score but doesn’t have a goal on nine shots in three games since the Canadiens acquired him from the New York Islanders. Vanek, who had 21 goals with Buffalo and New York this season, doesn’t appear to be frustrated.

"We all want to score goals and put up numbers," he said. "If you don’t, you’re probably in the wrong profession. But at the end of the day, it’s not something to focus on. The more you create, the more you get rewarded."

Vanek does not have a goal in 10 straight games versus Ottawa (28-25-12), which won the season’s first two meetings with Montreal before Price stopped 40 shots and Desharnais added a goal with an assist in the Canadiens’ 5-4 overtime road win Jan. 16.

The Senators have earned three points in two games since losing four of five, but are 12th in the East and five points out of the final wild-card position. Ottawa overcame a 3-0 deficit with three third-period goals Monday before falling 4-3 to Nashville in overtime.

"It would have been nice to get two (points), but we’re happy with the resiliency we showed at the end," defenseman Marc Methot said.

Jason Spezza had a goal with an assist and Ales Hemsky added three assists for the Senators.

Spezza has six points in two games, and two goals with three assists during a four-game point streak in Montreal. However, he missed Ottawa’s 4-3 overtime win there Jan. 4 because of a hip injury.

After being held without a point in his Senators debut March 5, Hemsky has six assists in two games.

"It’s been fun," said Hemsky, who has two goals and four assists during his four-game point streak at Montreal.