Carey Price would probably relish a shot to help the Montreal Canadiens finally beat the Vancouver Canucks. The All-Star, though, may have to wait a while longer for a start against his hometown team.
With Price struggling, the Canadiens may go with Jaroslav Halak in goal again as they try to snap a 10-game winless streak against the Canucks on Sunday night.
Price is from Williams Lake, British Columbia, approximately 340 miles from Vancouver. This will be the first time Price will get a chance to face the Canucks (26-21-8), and the Canadiens (30-20-6) could certainly use a strong effort in goal.
Montreal is 0-8-1 with one tie against Vancouver since a 4-3 road win on Nov. 30, 2003. Price would normally be a lock to start this game, but he is 2-7-0 with a 3.87 goals-against average in his last 10 games after missing the Canadiens’ previous eight contests with a lower body injury.
He’s been particularly bad in his last two games, allowing 12 goals.
Halak’s strong play is another reason Montreal may lean away from starting Price. Halak made a career-high 46 saves as the Canadiens’ snapped a seven-game road losing streak with a 4-2 win over Colorado on Friday night.
Montreal had lost four straight overall.
“The way we’ve been playing lately, we needed one goalie to step up,” Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said.
Halak was more than up to the task against the Avalanche, stopping three breakaway chances. He is 12-9-1 with a 3.00 GAA in a career-high 23 starts.
Halak has never faced the Canucks, but he may be the Canadiens’ best chance to build some momentum.
“We’ve had some meetings in the last week,” Montreal center Saku Koivu said. “You can talk all you want off the ice, but you have to get some wins.”
The Canadiens had their best offensive game since a 4-2 victory over Pittsburgh on Feb. 3. They did it despite being short-handed, with winger Tomas Plekanec serving the first of a two-game suspension for tripping Edmonton defenseman Denis Grebeshkov from behind Wednesday night.
Plekanec, who has 11 goals and 14 assists, is eligible to return Feb. 18 at Washington.
The Canadiens’ offense will now face a Canucks team that has had its own problems with a No. 1 goalie. Vancouver lost 2-1 to Dallas on Friday night, giving Roberto Luongo a break after nine straight starts since returning from a groin injury.
Luongo is 4-2-3 during that span but his GAA is 3.51. The veteran has been outstanding in his last three starts versus the Canadiens, though, going 2-1-0 with a 0.67 GAA.
Jason LaBarbera started against the Stars, making 28 saves, but Luongo will likely be back in net to face Montreal as the Canucks try to bounce back from their first loss in five games. They’re in the middle of a closely contested Western Conference.
“We know the race is tight for the playoff spots right now, so we just have to keep going,” Vancouver winger Alex Burrows told the team’s official Web site.
This will be the first matchup between the Canadiens and Canucks since Jan. 16, 2007, when Vancouver won 4-0 at Montreal.