The Montreal Canadiens have bounced back from a wretched start to the season by earning points in five of their last six games, but scoring continues to be an issue. The offensively challenged Canadiens continue a six-game homestand Thursday night when they host the Arizona Coyotes -- owners of the worst record in the NHL.
Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime loss to Columbus marked the 12th time in 19 games that Montreal has been limited to two goals or fewer, and coach Claude Julien knows his team can’t take two-win Arizona lightly. ”We can’t get caught in that situation,“ Julien said after Wednesday’s practice. ”They’re an NHL team and just because they haven’t won doesn’t mean they haven’t been good against teams and haven’t had a chance to win some games.” The Coyotes, who opened a four-game Canadian road trip with a 4-1 loss at Winnipeg on Tuesday, have scored only seven goals during their current five-game skid (0-3-2). “You’ve got to keep working at it. There’s no method,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “We’re not going to go trade for Mario Lemieux.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Arizona, RDS, TSN2 (Montreal)
ABOUT THE COYOTES (2-15-3): Scott Wedgewood, acquired 2 1/2 weeks ago from New Jersey, could be in line for a bigger role in net after Arizona shipped goaltender Louis Domingue to Tampa Bay in exchange for veteran netminder Michael Leighton and forward Tye McGinn. Wedgewood stopped 16 of 17 shots in relief of Antti Rantta, who allowed three goals on 13 shots in Winnipeg. Domingue was 0-6-0 with a 4.33 goals-against average for the Coyotes, who have yielded a league-worst 78 goals.
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (8-9-2): Rookie Charlie Lindgren will make his sixth consecutive start and has yet to allow more than two goals in all eight of his career NHL appearances. With No. 1 netminder Carey Price (lower body) shut down from skating for two days and Al Montoya (concussion) still sidelined, Montreal claimed veteran Antti Niemi off waivers and sent rookie Zach Fucale back to the minors. Captain Max Pacioretty was absent from Wednesday’s practice session for a “therapy day.”
1. Montreal is 1-for-11 on the power play over the past five games.
2. Arizona is the first team in league history to fail to post a regulation win through the first 20 games of a season.
3. Canadiens F Artturi Lehkonen has been ruled out indefinitely.
PREDICTION: Canadiens 4, Coyotes 1