Preview: Avalanche at Canadiens
The slumping Colorado Avalanche are off to an ugly start to their five-game road trip through Canada, giving up a total of 12 goals in a pair of losses at Winnipeg and Calgary. Colorado has lost 12 of its last 15 games overall (3-9-3) and dropped six in a row away from home entering Saturday night's matchup against the Montreal Canadiens.
The Avalanche posted a 2-1 home victory over the Canadiens on Dec. 19 but followed that up by losing eight of their next nine (1-6-2). "We're not finding ways to win right now, whether it's a save at a key time or a goal at a key time," captain Gabriel Landeskog said after Wednesday's 5-3 setback in Calgary. Montreal is coming off a lackluster 4-1 defeat at St. Louis on Thursday and has scored five goals during that span. "I saw a team that wasn't ready to play," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said after falling to the Blues. "From the first player to the last, we weren't in it at all."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Altitude (Colorado), TVAS, Sportsnet (Montreal)
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (20-16-8): Colorado has relied on the trio of Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon, who form the top-scoring line in hockey. All three players will represent the team in the All-Star Game after Landeskog was among the four "Last Men In" winners announced by the NHL on Friday. "(Landeskog) has been so good for us. He's a glue that holds our team together, our line together," said MacKinnon, who scored his 26th goal Wednesday. "He doesn't get enough credit for sure, but it's nice to see him get voted in. I'm sure we'll have a shift together (in the All-Star Game).
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (23-17-5): The lack of offensive production is not being helped by a sputtering power play, which converted on one of six chances in St. Louis and ranks dead last with a success rate of 12.8 percent. "That's an area of the game that we've got to get better at," forward Brendan Gallagher said. "That's probably the biggest area, that if we make an improvement, you'll probably see the biggest jump, the biggest difference. It's on us, the guys that are out there, to go out there and execute." Gallagher has scored in back-to-back contests following an eight-game goal drought.
1. Rantanen has three goals and three assists during a three-game point streak.
2. Canadiens G Carey Price has lost his last three starts and is 5-4-1 with a 2.79 goals-against average versus Colorado.
3. Landeskog, who registered 12 shots on goal in Wednesday's loss, has three straight multi-point games.
PREDICTION: Canadiens 4, Avalanche 3