Road-warrior Habs look to extend Flames’ skid

NHL Hockey
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The Montreal Canadiens have the best road record of the Atlantic Division squads, a key reason they currently hold a playoff spot. The secret to their success, however, is something of a mystery.

“I don’t know. We just keep it simple and just work hard,” goaltender Carey Price told the Montreal Gazette when asked how they have cobbled an 8-4-3 road mark.

The Habs will try to continue being road warriors when they visit the Calgary Flames on Thursday. A 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday kicked off a season-long string of seven consecutive road games.

“A gutsy, character win for sure on the road. … They had some opportunities on the power play and our (penalty kill) was great” forward Max Domi said. “And we capitalized on our power plays, so overall it was a gutsy effort, and we grinded it out. It’s a great way to start a road trip.”

Montreal’s seven-game stretch of road games will be split up by the Christmas break.

The Canadiens have won four of five games, and their star players certainly are making a difference. Price sports a 4-1-0 record with a .952 save percentage in his past five starts, while Tomas Tatar has scored a goal in four straight games and has netted four goals and two assists in a five-game point streak. Defenseman Shea Weber has a four-game point streak, in which he’s collected two goals and three assists.

Tatar and Weber scored power-play goals 94 seconds apart early in the third period of the Vancouver game to spark the Canadiens.

The Flames are looking to get back on track after dropping a 4-1 game to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, their second straight loss, which have both come despite a dominating opening period.

“It was a frustrating game,” forward Sean Monahan said of the Pittsburgh loss, which looked worse on the scoreboard because the Penguins scored a pair of empty-net goals. “We came out flying in the first, and I thought we played a great period. We sat back a little bit in the second, turned some pucks over, and obviously took a few penalties and they capitalized.

“… We had a lot of looks, we’ve been getting a lot of looks lately. At this time of year and where we want to be, you’ve got to bury those. We’ve got to find ways to score and we need to be better.”

Prior to these two losses, the Flames had won seven straight and eight of nine outings, but the opportunities have not turned into production recently. They have scored just one goal in the last two games.

“We had a lot of chances. It would have been nice to bury a couple of them,” interim coach Geoff Ward said. “When that happens, you’ve just got to stick with it — stick with the process. They came back on us in the second, found a way to get the lead, and then we were playing from behind again.

“We generated 43 scoring chances the last two hockey games, so we’re generating enough offensively. But the thing you have to remember in this game, it’s not what you make all the time, it’s what you leave. And we left a little bit out there that they were able to take advantage of and cash.”

–Field Level Media

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