Canadiens, Jackets look to start new win streaks
CANADIENS (7-3-1) at BLUE JACKETS (6-4-0)
TV: RDS (HD), TSN-HABS (HD)
This is the only meeting of the 2010-11 season between these clubs. In the most recent matchup, Carey Price finished with 33 saves as the Canadiens skated to a 5-3 win at Bell Centre on Nov. 24, 2009. Antoine Vermette
scored twice for the Blue Jackets.
Montreal leads the Northeast Division and could break a tie with Philadelphia and Tampa Bay for the Eastern Conference lead by gaining at least a point Tuesday. Columbus, meanwhile, is the only team in the tightly-bunched Central Division in action -- while the Blue Jackets begin play in fifth place, a win would jump them into a tie for second with the Blues, just one point back of the division-leading Blackhawks.
Despite putting 41 shots on Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun on Saturday, a four-game winning streak for Montreal came to an end as Vokoun stopped 40 of them and handed the Canadiens a 3-1 defeat. Mathieu Darche solved him for the only Habs' goal, tying the score early in the second, but a successful penalty shot by David Booth midway through the period proved too much to overcome.
"I thought we had three pretty good scoring chances out there," forward Tomas Plekanec said. "Give the credit to Vokoun, he played well. He made some very strong saves through the whole game and we didn't play as well as we should have."
Like its opponent, Columbus also had a winning streak come to an end in its most recent game. The Blue Jackets were handled 5-1 by the Avalanche on Saturday, halting a three-game run. Derick Brassard
averted the shutout by scoring a power-play goal 8:37 into the third period, but it was a forgettable night otherwise as Steve Mason
was pulled midway through after having won his two previous starts.
"I thought we got frustrated," captain Rick Nash
told the Columbus Dispatch. "Good teams stick with it. We didn't. We went the opposite way."
Jeff Halpern (1-3-4) and Benoit Pouliot (1-2-3) have three-game points streaks for the Canadiens. … Brassard has 3 goals and 1 assist during a four-game points streak for the Blue Jackets.
The only maladies to report come from the Columbus side -- defenseman Jan Hejda
is day-to-day with a calf injury, forward Kristian Huselius
is out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain and forwards Ethan Moreau
(hand) and Andrew Murray
(knee) and defenseman Mike Commodore
(hand) are on injured reserve.
Montreal's power play is the second-worst in the NHL, clicking at a 7.7-percent success rate -- only New Jersey's 7.3 is more anemic. The Canadiens let a two-man advantage for the first 76 seconds of the third period slip away against the Panthers when it was still a one-goal game.
"Believe it or not, we really haven't hit that level of frustration with our power play that people might have expected. We're doing a lot of things right and getting some great chances even though the stats might not suggest it right now," forward Mike Cammalleri said. "I think it's a lot more telling of what we're accomplishing on the whole that we've been very effective at 5-on-5. It's only a matter of time before that kind of success will lead to the power play getting hot, too."
Nash wasn't the only one in the Columbus room critical of the Blue Jackets' response to falling behind early against the Avalanche -- first-year coach Scott Arniel expressed similar sentiments to the Post Dispatch.
"We've got to get that mentality that we're playing hard no matter what happens," he said. "I'd like to have a situation where we lose a game playing our butts off. … When we lose right now we kind of fold up as a group when adversity hits us."