Golden Knights not taking Canadiens lightly (Feb 16, 2018)
LAS VEGAS -- With a Western Conference leading 80 points and a 10-point lead over the San Jose Sharks, not much is going wrong for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights these days.
The same can't be said, however, for the Montreal Canadiens who make their first ever visit to T-Mobile Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Montreal (22-28-7, 51 points) has an 8-18-1 road record, the worst in the NHL. The Canadiens have lost 10 of their last 11 away from home, including an embarrassing 5-2 loss to the worst team in the league, the Arizona Coyotes, on Thursday night.
During the dismal 11-game road streak, Montreal has been shut out three times and scored just one goal five other times. Goalie Carey Price has lost eight consecutive road starts.
Now the Canadiens play a Golden Knights team that has the best home record in the NHL, 21-4-2, and comes in off impressive back-to-back wins over Chicago (5-2) and Edmonton (4-1).
"They're a talented team," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said with a straight face after his team's practice on Friday. "They haven't scored many goals the last few games but I tell you the chances they get and create ... they have a lot of talented players.
"Things aren't going great for that team now but on any given night they can beat anybody. They have a talented group and they skate hard and work hard. Things just aren't going their way right now."
Gallant could have mentioned that the Golden Knights (38-15-4) actually own a losing record against the Canadiens, who handed them a 3-2 loss at the end of a grueling six-game, nine-day road trip back in early November when starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was sidelined with a concussion and backup Malcolm Subban also was out.
Vegas has rebounded to go 29-10-3 since that loss while Montreal has managed just a 15-20-6 mark.
"We were on a tough road trip at that time of the year," center Jonathan Marchessault, who leads Vegas with 55 points, said. "But we came out of it stronger I think. They played a better game than us. You've got to give them credit. But we're definitely a different team right now."
"It's always fun playing those teams, original six," Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland added. "There's so much history with their organizations. It's always fun to play those guys."
Despite the difference in records, Engelland said Vegas won't be taking Montreal lightly, especially after what happened at the Bell Centre in the first meeting.
"The last game they came out flying and they hemmed us in our zone," Engelland said. "We gave up a two-goal lead. We've got to be ready for their best and we have to come out and match that intensity."
The game with Montreal is the middle game of a seven-game homestand for the Golden Knights who have just one day off between each of the seven contests.
"Sometimes I like to play every other day but believe me it's fun to have two days off every once in a while, too," Gallant said. "(Playing) every second day gets to be a grind after a while and we're only in the middle of that right now. I don't mind playing back-to-back and then getting a couple of days off sometimes."
After Saturday's game, Vegas hosts Anaheim on Monday while Montreal concludes its road trip at Philadelphia on Tuesday.