Canadiens visit Devils with aspirations to salvage season

NHL Hockey
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The Montreal Canadiens experienced two eight-game losing streaks earlier this season and are hoping those ultimately do not prevent them from missing the postseason.

With 28 games remaining, the Canadiens instead hope to start getting on a roll, starting with Tuesday’s visit to the New Jersey Devils.

The Canadiens went 0-5-3 from Nov. 16-Dec. 1 and that put them two points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Montreal then won seven of its next 10 games to move into the final wild-card spot but then went 0-7-1 from Dec. 28-Jan. 9 and that dropped them nine points out of the final wild-card spot.

Since the second eight-game skid, Montreal is a respectable 6-3 in its last nine games but has barely gained any ground and heads to New Jersey after a flu bug canceled Monday’s full practice.

The Canadiens missed a chance at gaining ground Sunday afternoon when they never led and took a 4-3 home loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“I don’t think we got outplayed,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien told reporters afterward. “I think it was a tight game. The difference was the mistakes. We made a few mistakes that ended up in the back of our net.”

Tomas Tatar, Max Domi, and Shea Weber scored for the Canadiens, who were unable to win three straight games for the fifth time this season after a 4-0 home win over Florida on Saturday.

“It’s frustration, especially at this point of the season when we’re desperate for wins,” defenseman Ben Chiarot said. “We’re trying to keep that good feeling in the room and keep building these wins.”

The Canadiens will hope to get their fourth straight road win against a team whose 45 points are the third fewest in the NHL.

After a 6-5 shootout loss to Nashville last Thursday, the Devils took a 3-2 overtime loss to Dallas on Saturday night.

Nico Hischier scored the tying goal in the third period, but the Devils lost moments after Hischier was stopped on a breakaway in overtime and fell to 3-5-3 in their last 11 games since winning three straight Dec. 29-Jan. 2.

“We’re playing some good hockey,” Hischier said. “We’re playing good enough hockey to win games. It’s just little things that are missing right now. If we do those right, we’re going to start winning.”

The Devils may face Carey Price, whose 44 starts lead all goaltenders. Price has started the last six games and played 12 of the last 14 games.

Price is 22-18-4 with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage and allowed five goals on 34 shots in Montreal’s 6-4 home loss to the Devils on Nov. 28. Former Devil Keith Kinkaid started on Nov. 16 in Montreal and allowed the game-winner to Kyle Palmieri in overtime in a 4-3 loss.

The Devils have won the last seven meetings with Montreal and are 7-1-2 against the Canadiens since Jan. 20, 2017.

–Field Level Media

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