Canadiens hope for better bounces vs. Blackhawks

Blackhawks

The Montreal Canadiens look to avoid another five-game winless skid Thursday when they host the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Canadiens tumbled out of the gate with five straight losses to begin the season. More recently, they have dropped four in a row (0-3-1) and 10 of their last 12 (2-8-2) following Tuesday’s 3-2 setback to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Nick Suzuki scored his second goal in as many games on Tuesday and added an assist for his 100th career point. Suzuki’s heroics aside, the Lightning lowered the boom by tallying twice late in the third period to emerge victorious in the first game between the teams since last season’s Stanley Cup Final.

“It was right there for us and it hits (former Canadiens forward Corey Perry) in the knee and goes in,” Suzuki said. “And then another rush at the end and they scored and we lose the game. Just two little things, and that’s the kind of bounces we’ve been getting so far.”

Montreal will look for better bounces on Thursday when they potentially tangle with Marc-Andre Fleury. The three-time Stanley Cup winner and reigning Vezina Trophy recipient was unsuccessful in his initial bid to record his 500th NHL win in Chicago’s 6-2 setback to the New York Rangers on Tuesday.

Fleury posted a 6-2-0 record with a 1.74 goals-against average and one shutout in an eight-start stretch before Tuesday’s tilt.

“He’s unbelievable,” Blackhawks center Dylan Strome said recently, per NBC Sports Chicago. “Vezina Trophy winner for a reason. Without him, we’re not in a lot of these games. He’s a heck of a goalie, (he) probably (will be) Team Canada goalie I’d say. He’s unbelievable, great guy in the locker room, too. You hear about it, guys coming to your team and hear how great of a guy he is and every word’s been true. One of the best teammates I’ve ever had, for sure.”

Fleury has fared well versus the Canadiens in his career, posting a 22-13-6 record with one shutout.

Alex DeBrincat, who has a team-leading 14 goals, notched an assist on Kirby Dach’s goal in the first period against the Rangers. Dach’s goal was his fourth of the season and first since Oct. 27.

“It’s nice for him to get the feeling more where he’s scoring goals and he’s around the net,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said of Dach. “For a guy like that, he’s a big part of our offense. Building that confidence is good for him.”

The Blackhawks hope to address their back end on Thursday with the potential returns of defensemen Connor Murphy (concussion protocol) and Jake McCabe (personal). Both players have missed three straight games.

Jake Allen likely will get the nod on Thursday for Montreal.

Allen has turned aside 134 of 146 shots during his four-game winless skid (0-3-1). He sports an 11-6-4 record with two shutouts, a 2.47 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in 21 career appearances (20 starts) versus the Blackhawks.

–Field Level Media

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