Preview: Devils at Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens were making a run at first place in the Atlantic Division before a pair of key injuries stalled their momentum and now find themselves mired in a five-game winless drought capped by two brutal defeats. Montreal looks to halt its slide when it resumes a five-game homestand against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.
Three nights after blowing a four-goal lead in a 6-5 loss to the New York Rangers, the Canadiens turned in a feeble effort in an 8-1 demolition by the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night. “You have two choices right now,” Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher told reporters. “You can continue to fight and battle as a group, or you can choose to shy away from little bits of adversity. That’s the opportunity that we have right now - choose to fight and work our way out of this." The Devils are buried in the cellar of the Metropolitan Division and have dropped three of four, but they started the Canadiens' skid with a 4-3 overtime win in Montreal on Nov. 16. New Jersey coach John Hynes said at Wednesday's practice that he plans to make changes to a lineup that has produced two goals or fewer in nine of the last 11 games.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NHL Network, MSG Plus (New Jersey), Sportsnet, RDS (Montreal)
ABOUT THE DEVILS (8-11-4): Kyle Palmieri has scored in back-to-back games to boost his team-high total to nine goals and also notched the deciding tally in overtime at Montreal two weeks ago. Leading scorer Taylor Hall scored in two of the past three, matching his output from his first 20 games, and has six points over the past five contests - including a pair of assists against the Canadiens. Rookie Jesper Boqvist was credited with his first NHL goal Tuesday, although the NHL later said the play should have been blown dead.
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (11-8-5): Carey Price was pierced for all six goals by New York and was yanked 70 seconds into the second period after yielding five tallies on 11 shots to Boston. It marked the first time Price was pulled from a start since Dec. 9, 2017, and raised his goals-against average to 3.09. “Every goalie will tell you that there’s times where you just go through a tough spell,” Price told reporters. “It’s not panicking or anything like that. It’s just back to the drawing board and it starts in practice tomorrow.”
1. Price, who did not face New Jersey earlier this month, is 12-13-1 with a 2.39 goals-against average versus the Devils
2. Devils C Nico Hischier scored once and set up another in Montreal and has five goals in seven career matchups against the Canadiens.
3. Montreal has not won since Fs Jonathan Drouin and Paul Byron were sidelined by injuries.
PREDICTION: Canadiens 4, Devils 2