Teams have had an easy time shutting down Montreal’s offense, especially over the past week. The Phoenix Coyotes and their banged-up blue line, though, know better than to take the Canadiens lightly.
The Coyotes, who have been playing without three of their top defensemen, look to end a five-game losing streak against the struggling Canadiens on Thursday night.
Montreal (8-10-0) has scored one goal in losing two straight following a 2-1 shootout win over Boston last Thursday night. The Canadiens, coming off a 1-0 loss to Calgary on Tuesday night, have dropped five of seven and are among the worst in the league with 2.33 goals per game.
“It’s frustrating. We can’t put a goal on the board,” left wing Mike Cammalleri said.
Cammalleri is tied for the team lead with 14 points (seven goals, seven assists), but he’s been held off the scoresheet in three straight games. Canadiens center Scott Gomez(notes) hasn’t scored a goal in nine straight.
Montreal, though, has had little trouble scoring against Phoenix (10-7-0) in past years.
The Coyotes have given up 21 goals in five straight losses to the Canadiens since a 3-all tie Dec. 8, 2001. Phoenix is 2-9-0 with four ties versus Montreal since the franchise moved from Winnipeg prior to the 1996-97 season.
Defense has been a strength for the Coyotes, allowing 2.29 goals per game, but they have surrendered four or more in three of their last four and have been plagued by injuries.
Ed Jovanovski(notes) missed a 4-3 loss to Anaheim on Saturday night after sustaining a lower-body injury in a 3-1 victory over Chicago last Thursday. The veteran defenseman has 13 points (five goals, eight assists), one less than team leader Shane Doan(notes).
The trio’s absence was too much to overcome against the Ducks, as the Coyotes fell short after coming back from a 4-0 deficit.
The Coyotes are coming off a much-needed break, getting four days off before opening a three-game homestand. They’re 5-3-0 at Jobing.com Arena, surrendering two goals or fewer six times.
Jaroslav Halak(notes) has given up eight goals in two road starts for the Canadiens. He has posted a 2.62 goals-against average in eight overall starts, splitting time with 2005 first-round pick Carey Price(notes).
Price is 1-7-0 with a 3.56 GAA in his last eight starts. He’s 2-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA in two starts versus the Coyotes, while Halak has never faced Phoenix.