The return of their standout goaltender has provided quite the boost for the Montreal Canadiens, who have won two in a row following a five-game losing streak. After cooling off the league’s hottest team, Montreal goes for its third consecutive victory when they host the reeling Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night.
Carey Price has been spectacular since returning from a lengthy injury absence, turning aside 73 of 74 shots in two starts. “I think we’re still relying on Carey too much. We’ve got to be playing better in front of him. But, we know he’s got our back,” said teammate Andrew Shaw after the Canadiens halted Columbus’ six-game winning streak. “He’s healthy. He’s hungry. He’s excited. He’s been our best player, for sure, the last two games.” Facing Price and a revitalized Montreal squad couldn’t come at a worse time for punchless Ottawa, which is kicking off a seven-game road trip and has scored a total of eight goals during a six-game skid (0-5-1). The Senators have dropped four in a row against Montreal, including an 8-3 drubbing in Ottawa on Oct. 30 in the only meeting this season.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet, RDS
ABOUT THE SENATORS (8-8-6): Matt Duchene, acquired from Colorado earlier this month to bolster the offense, finally scored his first point and first goal in his eighth game with Ottawa, but several of his new teammates are mired in deep slumps. Bobby Ryan has yet to score this season and star defenseman Erik Karlsson, who has only one goal, has failed to record a point during the six-game skid. Derick Brassard got off to a fast start with six goals in the first eight games but has been blanked over the past 14 games.
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (10-12-3): Captain Max Pacioretty, who has scored at least 30 goals in each of the past four seasons, has notched only one assist over the past seven games and was demoted from the No. 1 line. Pacioretty also was not working with the top power-play unit at Tuesday’s practice -- he has one goal and three assists on the man advantage this season and failed to score with the extra skater in the last 25 games in 2016-17. ”We want our special teams to be better,” coach Claude Julien explained.
1. Price is 20-8-4 with a 2.37 goals-against average versus the Senators.
2. Ottawa has scored once in its last 23 power-play chances.
3. Canadiens D Shea Weber (lower body), who has missed four straight games, did not practice Tuesday.
PREDICTION: Canadiens 4, Senators 2