Coyotes head north of the border in bid to reverse fortunes
The Arizona Coyotes' Eastern time zone road swing has started with a pair of lopsided losses, but the Coyotes are hoping that venturing north of the border to Canada can reverse their fortunes.
The Coyotes (9-8-1) are 2-0-0 in games played in Canada -- registering victories over Toronto and Ottawa. Wednesday night's game in Montreal, however, figures to be a much more difficult challenge against a Canadiens team with the league's second-highest point total (14-3-2). The game can be seenon FOX Sports Arizona, starting at 5 p.m.
Montreal will again be without starting goaltender Carey Price, who has returned to practice but is not ready to return to game action. Rookie Mike Condon will make his ninth consecutive start in goal.
Condon's had his struggles of late, but his teammates have compensated. Montreal trailed Vancouver 3-0 early in the second period Monday before recovering for a 4-3 overtime victory -- ending a two-game losing streak.
"It was important," said Lars Eller, who scored the first Montreal goal. "We'd rather be up 3-0, but it was the first time this season we came back from being down like that, so it's very satisfying. It builds confidence in the room.
"You don't think about scoring three, you think about scoring one. When it's 3-1, there's half the game left and you don't think it's so much if you just go one at a time."
Slow starts, however, are beginning to pile up. The Canadiens have fallen behind in the first period in four straight games, and they've allowed 12 goals in their last three.
Condon, who hadn't given up more than two goals while posting a 1.57 goals-against average and .940 save percentage to open 6-0-1, has 3.56 and .859 marks over a 1-1-1 stretch. The team's confidence in him remains.
"He's done a great job," forward Max Pacioretty told the Canadiens' official website. "He's kept us in every game. I think the greatest thing I've seen from him is his ability to bounce back, whether it's after a loss or after a goal.
"He's a strong-minded player, and it's important in that position, especially in this market. No matter the outcome of the game, he always came to the rink the next day and did the right thing."
The Canadiens and Coyotes (9-8-1) split two games last season, with the road teams winning both games. The Coyotes' victory was their first in Montral since 1996.
Arizona's four-game road trip has started with consecutive 5-2 losses to Columbus and the New York Islanders. The Coyotes have given up 3.56 goals per game over a 4-5-0 span, and they've fallen behind in their last six games.
"We're making mistakes, plain and simple," coach Dave Tippett said. "We're making mistakes that cost us early in the game. We have to wipe those mistakes."
They could also use some scoring from Antoine Vermette. The veteran, who returned to Arizona in the offseason after winning the Stanley Cup in Chicago, is yet to score in 12 games.
Scoring has instead come from a pair of 20-year-olds. Max Domi leads the team with eight goals, and Anthony Duclair, who is from Montreal, has seven after managing one in 18 games with the New York Rangers last season.
Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson has chipped in with a career-best six-game point streak.
Anders Lindback faced the Islanders, and Mike Smith is expected to start in Montreal. Smith gave up five goals on 21 shots Saturday in Columbus. Smith is 3-2-3 with a 2.06 GAA and .932 save percentage in nine games vs. Montreal.
The Coyotes haven't started a season with three consecutive wins in Canada since relocating to Arizona. They'll conclude this road trip against another Canadian foe -- Winnipeg -- on Saturday night.