Carey Price has made his triumphant return to the lineup, and the Montreal Canadiens hope the presence of the former Hart Trophy-winning goaltender can spark a streak when they host the red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday. Price turned aside 36 shots in a 3-0 victory over Buffalo on Saturday after missing 10 contests with a lower-body injury, ending Montreal’s five-game losing streak.
“He’s one of the best players in the league, and to have a player like that is always a boost, not just on the ice, but in the locker room,” Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk told reporters regarding Price. “He’s so focused and calm, and it’s great to see him back.” Montreal will need another big effort from Price against the Blue Jackets, who have won six straight contests - with some outstanding goaltending of their own - after knocking off Ottawa 5-2 on Friday. Sergei Bobrovsky, who leads the league in goals-against average (1.91) and save percentage (.936), has allowed a total of six goals during the winning streak - which includes a 2-1 overtime triumph at Montreal on Nov. 14. The Blue Jackets are 7-3-1 on the road - including three consecutive victories - and have earned at least one point in six straight meetings with the Canadiens (5-0-1).
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Columbus), TSN2, RDS (Montreal)
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (15-7-1): Cam Atkinson ended his eight-game goal-scoring drought with a pair of tallies in Friday’s win while captain Nick Foligno scored for the first time in 14 contests. “It felt like I hadn’t scored a goal in a couple years,” Atkinson told reporters. “It’s good to contribute. That’s my game. It’s nice to be a part of it and get back to the way I’m playing.” Artemi Panarin has recorded three goals in his last six games and tops the team with 15 points, while Josh Anderson has netted a team-high eight tallies after missing the first two contests this season due to a contract dispute.
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (9-12-3): Jonathan Drouin took over the team lead in scoring with 15 points after recording a pair of assists in Saturday’s win, while Brendan Gallagher (14 points) tops the club with nine goals. All-Star defenseman Shea Weber (13 points) has missed three consecutive games with a lower-body injury and is questionable for Monday’s contest. With Weber sidelined, Joe Morrow has seen increased playing time, and the former first-round pick has posted two points and a plus-1 rating over the last three contests.
1. The Blue Jackets have registered just one power-play goal in 23 opportunities over their last 10 games but are 17-for-17 on the penalty kill over their last eight.
2. Montreal captain Max Pacioretty has gone six games without a point, posting a minus-6 rating in that stretch.
3. Columbus C Alexander Wennberg, who has been out since Nov. 11 with an upper-body injury, made the trip to Montreal and could return to the lineup soon.
PREDICTION: Canadiens 3, Blue Jackets 2