Blues look to cool suddenly hot Canadiens
MONTREAL — The Canadiens attempt to extend their winning streak to six games on Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues at Bell Centre.
The Canadiens (13-12-3), who lost five games in a row before turning things around, have been powered by the goaltending of Carey Price and an offense that has come to life.
Price, who will play a sixth consecutive contest on Tuesday against the Blues (17-8-2), is 5-0-0 since returning from a lower-body injury that kept him out for 10 games. He has allowed six goals in those five games.
Montreal is coming off a 10-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. The Canadiens, who were 30th in the NHL in average goals per game a couple of weeks ago, have scored 24 goals during their win streak.
“We started the season with a bunch of new faces,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said Monday on the team’s website. “It takes time. I would say it takes time and there’s a little bit of chemistry amongst players. We’re also playing better. When you compare our team at the beginning of the year, we had a lot of guys struggling and they’re finding their stride.
“So there’s a lot of reasons. There’s not one reason, but a lot of reasons for that to come around and I like the fact that (the offense) is spread out and it’s not always relying on the same guys to score goals. That’s what we need.”
To Julien’s point, 13 players have scored the 24 goals during the Canadiens’ winning streak, led by Brendan Gallagher and Paul Byron with four each. The winning streak has put the Canadiens back in the battle for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“You definitely can’t feel too good about yourselves because the situation we’re in, we can’t afford to relax and take our foot off the gas pedal,” Gallagher told the team’s website. “We still need to play hungry hockey. We had one good week here where we were able to make up some ground, but there’s still a lot of hockey to be played.”
Canadiens center Jonathan Drouin, who has missed two games with a lower-body injury, did not practice Monday. He is not expected to play against the Blues, who are winless in their past three games (0-2-1) and 4-5-1 in their past 10.
They are coming off a 2-1 loss in overtime to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.
“I don’t think that the score reflected the game,” Blues coach Mike Yeo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Monday, “and for me, that was more important, that we got back to our game. I like the aggressiveness that we played the game with.
“Obviously any time you’re getting over 40 shots on net in another team’s building against a team that defends well, you’re doing some good things. Obviously we have to find a way to score some more goals; that will be the challenge (Tuesday).”
The Blues have scored four goals in their past three games, two of them by center Patrik Berglund, who missed the team’s first 24 games of the season after shoulder surgery. He recorded a hat trick in the Blues’ only visit to Bell Centre last season, a 4-2 victory in February.
After a hot start in which Blues forward Brayden Schenn had 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) in eight games, he has failed to record a point in his last five games.