Canadiens face Predators in search of better form

NHL Hockey

The Montreal Canadiens aim to put the brakes on a pronounced slide when they conclude a two-game homestand against the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

The floundering Canadiens were booed by their own fans on Thursday following their 6-0 shellacking at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Goalie Cayden Primeau yielded five goals before being chased after two periods, and leading scorer Nick Suzuki failed to register a shot while losing eight of 11 faceoffs.

“We were just bad,” coach Dominique Ducharme said after Montreal lost its fourth in a row and seventh in the last eight games (1-5-2). “Everyone needs to go through it but (Thursday) we were just bad. I can stand here and try to analyze every play but we were bad.”

Surrendering three goals in the first period pretty much set the tone as the Canadiens fell to 3-6-1 at home following their second shutout loss of the season. Montreal plays host to Nashville on Saturday before embarking on a three-game road trip.

“We have a lot of games and a lot of road to go,” defenseman Ben Chiarot said after logging a team-high 23:26 of ice time while compiling a minus-4 rating on Thursday. “We have a game (on Saturday), so park this one and get ready for the next one.”

Cole Caufield returned to the lineup on Thursday after a six-game stint with Laval in the American Hockey League. The first-round pick registered one shot on goal and finished with a minus-3 rating.

“It’s not easy to go through that first stretch with people saying he was going to win the Calder Trophy, rookie of the year, and then he gets sent down to the minors and comes back with a lot of confidence, so I’m proud of him,” Chiarot said of Caufield.

The Predators have been idle since dropping a 3-0 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. Their game Thursday at Ottawa was postponed by the NHL after the Senators’ COVID-19 outbreak.

“The things that hurt us (Tuesday); the difference was we had some opportunities in the game where they had some sustained pressure, and I thought a lot of that was generated from us, through our execution with the puck and some of our decision making against a good offensive team,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. “If we can clean those couple areas up, we’ll be better moving forward.”

Matt Duchene nearly added to his team-leading totals in goals (nine) and points (16) after hitting the post early in the second period against the Maple Leafs. He has eight goals and seven assists in his last 11 games overall, while Mikael Granlund has two and 10, respectively, over that same stretch.

Juuse Saros has yielded just 14 goals while sporting a 6-1-1 record over his last eight starts. He has allowed just three goals in two career starts versus Montreal, both wins.

–Field Level Media

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