Blues' Hitchcock: 'We're running on fumes right now'
The Montreal Canadiens' lackluster scoring attack might get a lift if they can get one of their top goal scorers back in the lineup.
The Canadiens will also face a short-handed team they've dominated in recent meetings Saturday night, and Montreal could have another advantage as the St. Louis Blues haven't been at their best in slowing down opponents lately.
The Canadiens (23-18-3) have averaged 1.8 goals in a 5-14-1 stretch and scored one in each of their back-to-back losses. They produced 40 shots Thursday in a 2-1 defeat to Chicago.
"The effort was there," coach Michel Therrien said. "We got lots of pucks to the net, lots of chances, but (Blackhawks goaltender Corey) Crawford was very good."
The Canadiens might get Dale Weise, tied for second on the team with 11 goals, back from an upper-body injury he suffered in a 5-1 rout of Boston in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1.
Weise was initially expected to miss two to three weeks, but the forward and Therrien indicated Friday that absence could end much sooner.
"The doctors have got to look at some stuff and make sure I'm medically cleared, but I feel real good," Weise said.
If he returns, Weise will try to lead Montreal to a fourth consecutive win against St. Louis (25-15-7). The Canadiens have taken the past three meetings by a combined 12-3 and won 3-0 in their initial one this season Oct. 20, part of a franchise-record 9-0-0 start.
St. Louis has lost six of eight following a 4-1 defeat to visiting Carolina on Thursday, the fourth time the Blues have given up four goals in that stretch.
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St. Louis' lengthy injury list includes starting goaltender Jake Allen, who might remain out until the All-Star break because of an ailing knee. Alexander Steen could be the next to join after getting hit inadvertently in the face by teammate Kevin Shattenkirk's stick Thursday.
Jay Bouwmeester, Carl Gunnarsson, Steve Ott, Magnus Paajarvi and Jaden Schwartz are also among the missing.
"We don't have any energy. We're running on fumes right now," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We've got to play a game on Saturday. We've got to focus on Saturday. We've got to find some energy.
"We just can't continue to play without all the bodies and expect not to have some of these (lackluster efforts)."
Brian Elliott, who was pulled in the third period against Carolina, is expected to be in net again for the third of St. Louis' four consecutive home games. He hasn't started against Montreal since Nov. 6, 2010, when he was with Ottawa.
Mike Condon is expected to start for the Canadiens. He has a 1.52 goals-against average in his last four games, including the back-to-back losses.
Condon, continuing to fill in for an injured Carey Price, has never faced St. Louis.
Max Pacioretty scored the opening goal in the latest win over the Blues, giving him three in his past three matchups. Alex Galchenyuk had two goals and an assist in the last visit to St. Louis, a 5-2 victory Feb. 24, while Brendan Gallagher also scored twice.