Canadiens-Flames Preview


Lars Eller and the Montreal Canadiens were feeling good after posting their first victory over the weekend.

The mood could become more somber in Calgary, where they haven't won in almost 12 years.

The Canadiens try to snap a seven-game winless stretch at Scotiabank Saddledome when they begin a four-game road trip against the Flames on Wednesday night.

After suffering a 4-3 season-opening loss to Toronto, Montreal (1-1-0) bounced back Saturday with a 4-1 win over Philadelphia. Eller was one of four players to tally a goal and an assist and Alex Galchenyuk added two helpers.

"I think that's the strength of our team, the depth of our scoring," captain Brian Gionta told the team's official website. "You look up and down the lineup, we have three lines that can score goals and that's a huge key for us."

On the verge of a possible breakout campaign, the 24-year-old Eller has already notched three goals and two assists.

"I got off on the right foot," he said. "The whole line has been playing great. We're creating space for each other. If you create chances, the goals are going to come."

The Canadiens now hit the road, where they went 15-7-2 last season to finish with 32 points, tied for fourth-most in the NHL. Montreal, however, is 0-6-0 with one tie in its last seven road games against the Flames, losing the last six by a combined 24-12 score.

The Canadiens, who have also dropped three straight and six of seven in the series overall, haven't won in Calgary since a 4-2 victory Jan. 5, 2002.

"We've got to focus on Calgary first," defenseman Josh Gorges said. "You can't worry about what the outcome is going to be at the end of four games. It's too far ahead to think that way.

"I think that moving forward on this road trip, we need to keep on building on what we did here and keep getting better."

The Flames (1-0-2) have compiled at least one point in each of their first three contests after falling 5-4 to Vancouver in overtime Sunday. Joey MacDonald stopped just 23 shots for Calgary, which went 0 for 3 on the power play for the second straight game.

The Flames are 1 for 11 on the man advantage and have allowed 12 goals.

"We have some kinks to work out of our system," coach Bob Hartley told the Flames' official website. "We have to learn to kick the other teams rather than kicking ourselves at the wrong time of the game, but if it would be by a lack of commitment or a lack of work, I'd be very worried.

"It's either a lack of experience or right now, a lack of execution and that's my part. I'll take the responsibilities. We need to keep moving forward with those players, keep pushing them, keep motivating them."

Former Flames forward Rene Bourque, who was sent to Montreal in January 2012, will play his 500th career game in his second trip back since the trade.

"I think I was a little nervous last time just because it was my first game against them. I'm pretty relaxed coming back here now," he said. "It's nothing like it was the first game back."

Montreal's Carey Price, who made 22 saves Saturday, has compiled a 4.37 goals-against average in losing each of his three starts against Calgary.

Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty is likely to return after sitting out against the Flyers with an arm injury.