Flames-Canadiens Preview

Flames-Canadiens Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 7:58 p.m. ET

The Montreal Canadiens' most recent win against the Calgary Flames came during a much better time for the storied franchise.

The Canadiens are currently limping down the stretch but will try to earn another victory over the Flames, who will give goaltender Niklas Backstrom his first NHL start in 14 months Sunday night.

Montreal blew out Calgary 6-2 on Oct. 30 as part of its 19-4-3 start. The Canadiens haven't been the same since early December, going 14-29-3 not long after losing star goaltender Carey Price, and a 5-0 defeat in Ottawa on Saturday was their seventh in 10 games.

They gave up three short-handed goals to the Senators in their worst loss since being routed 6-1 by Colorado on Nov. 14.

"It was a tough night," Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty said. "It's the NHL. You've got to show up and play hard and it didn't happen. We just gave them three goals."

Montreal (33-33-6) has also dropped back-to-back home games by an 8-2 margin after going 7-0-1 in its previous eight. The Flames (30-35-6) are heading into the Bell Centre after going 2-0-1 to finish a six-game homestand.

Calgary will begin a three-game trip and a stretch of seven of eight on the road with a new goaltender. Backstrom was acquired Feb. 29 from Minnesota, where he was stuck behind Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper on the depth chart.


Backstrom hasn't played for any other team but the Wild since entering the league in 2006-07, registering a franchise-record 194 wins and 28 shutouts in 409 appearances. He played his most recent NHL game Jan. 13, 2015.

"He came in with a great attitude, lots of energy, lots of work on the ice, in the gym," coach Bob Hartley told the team's official website. "He works relentlessly so we felt that we needed to be honest with him also and that's why he's going to get the start in Montreal."

Backstrom has made all three of his starts against the Canadiens in Montreal, going 1-1-0 with a 2.45 goals-against average. He also appeared in the 2009 All-Star Game there, his only appearance in that showcase.

"You want to go out there and compete against other teams, but compete against yourself too to see where you are. For sure it's fun to have a date now," Backstrom said.

With Ben Scrivens starting Saturday's loss, Montreal is expected to send out Mike Condon for this game. The rookie defeated Calgary in October.

The Canadiens, however, won't have the player who recorded a hat trick against the Flames in that game since Dale Weise was traded to Chicago on Feb. 26.

Calgary, meanwhile, has a red-hot Mark Giordano, who has scored a goal in three straight games, including a 4-3 shootout defeat to Colorado on Friday. The defenseman also has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in his last eight contests and six (three goals, three assists) in his past six matchups with Montreal.

Josh Jooris has three goals in his last two games against the Canadiens, but he has just one goal and three assists in his past 27 contests.