The Boston Bruins have had difficulty scoring this season and their shortcomings on offense at the Bell Centre stretch back nearly a year. Perhaps the last thing they need to see is Cristobal Huet in goal for the Montreal Canadiens.
Boston will try to snap a four-game losing streak in Montreal as they meet the Canadiens on Saturday night.
The Bruins (9-6-2) have been outscored 8-2 in two losses this season to the Canadiens, including a 6-1 road defeat on Oct. 22. Since snapping a four-game slide at the Bell Centre on Dec. 4, Boston has dropped another four straight including consecutive shutouts in a two-week span late last season.
In five career starts against the Bruins in Montreal, Huet is 4-0-0 with a 1.83 goals-against average. He lost his first two home starts in 2007-08 but has been dominant there since then, posting a 4-1-0 record with a 1.61 GAA.
Should Huet get the start over rookie Carey Price, he will face an offense that will try to build off one of its best games this season. After being limited to seven goals in their previous five games, the Bruins defeated Toronto 5-2 on Thursday.
Peter Schaefer, who was held without a point in his previous five games, scored twice and added an assist.
“As it goes on and you’re not scoring, and you know you can help your team, you don’t feel as good as you should,” Schaefer told the Bruins’ official Web site. “I’m just going to go out there, try to relax and have fun.”
Despite their best offensive game since an 8-6 win over Los Angeles on Oct. 12, the Bruins still are at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 41 goals.
“We’ve been a team that’s been offensively challenged,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We’ve been doing our homework and trying to find a way to find the back of the net.”
Goaltender Tim Thomas, though, has been the big reason why Boston has given up the second-fewest goals in the league with just 39. Following a 2-1 home loss to the Canadiens on Nov. 8, Thomas has stopped 79 of 82 shots in wins there over Buffalo and the Maple Leafs, dropping his GAA to 1.68.
But Thomas has struggled to win in Montreal during his career, going 1-4-0 with a 2.21 GAA.
He’s also made nine consecutive starts and with backup goaltender Manny Fernandez sidelined by a strained knee, there’s a chance highly touted Tuukka Rask could make his first NHL start for the Bruins. Rask, a Finnish native, was selected 21th overall in the 2005 draft by Toronto and acquired by Boston in June 2006 for fellow netminder Andrew Raycroft.
The 20-year-old Rask was 7-1-0 with a 1.98 GAA with Providence of the AHL before being recalled on Thursday.
Montreal (10-5-3) enters after dropping a 4-1 decision to Buffalo on Friday. Huet faced 12 shots in the first period, but allowed three goals as the Canadiens settled for a split of their four-game road trip.
“We knew they would start the game hard and we didn’t react to it,” Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. “The harder we tried, the deeper we got into a hole.”
Michael Ryder scored his first goal since Oct. 27 for Montreal and just his third after tallying 30 in each of his last two seasons. He’s gone without a point in his last three home games against the Bruins.