The Montreal Canadiens don’t have to look far to find motivation heading into their Tuesday home game against the surging Los Angeles Kings.
Carey Price returned to the team’s practice facility on Sunday after completing a 30-day stay in the NHL/NHL Players Association’s player assistance program. The former Hart and Vezina Trophy recipient reportedly is not close to returning to game action, but he is expected to greet his teammates on Tuesday as he works his way back from offseason knee surgery.
“When it happened, it’s not about the hockey player, it’s about the human being,” Montreal coach Dominique Ducharme said, following Monday’s practice, regarding Price seeking help. “To see that he’s coming back is a positive sign because he’s doing better, so that’s the most important thing. Our guys care about each other and to see a guy like him doing better, that’s positive.”
The Canadiens are in need of some positives after losing 10 of their first 13 games this season.
Jake Allen, who is saddled with a 3-8-0 record, allowed three goals on 16 shots in Montreal’s 5-2 setback against the visiting Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.
Allen surrendered five goals on 38 shots in a 5-2 loss at Los Angeles on Oct. 30. Despite the defeat, he sports a 6-4-0 record with a 1.97 goals-against average in 11 career appearances against the Kings.
Nick Suzuki scored and set up a goal versus Vegas to stake Montreal to a 2-0 lead after one period.
“We kind of took our foot off the gas,” Suzuki said. “Our first period was great, had a lot of momentum coming in, everyone was feeling good, and then giving up the (power-play) goal just kind of killed that.”
Suzuki, who had an assist in the previous encounter with the Kings, has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in his past seven games.
Ducharme said he would announce whether Allen or Sam Montembeault would start in net against the Kings on Tuesday morning.
He also noted that Jonathan Drouin is day-to-day and will be evaluated on Tuesday morning. The forward has missed two straight games since he was hit in the head by a shot from teammate Brett Kulak in Montreal’s 3-0 win over Detroit on Nov. 2.
While the Canadiens are looking to turn around their fortunes, the Kings did precisely that by answering a six-game winless skid (0-5-1) with their current five-game winning streak.
Former Canadien Phillip Danault collected two goals and an assist on Monday as the Kings opened a four-game road trip with a 5-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Captain Anze Kopitar set up a goal against the Maple Leafs. He had two assists vs. Montreal, and he has six points (one goals, five assists) in his past five games.
“Had we come in with just Kopi, obviously, the mismatches exist right away,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said, per TSN. “But now with Phil there you feel a little bit better about playing everybody. … He certainly alleviates some of the pressure on Anze.”
Alex Iafallo had two assists against the Maple Leafs to extend his point streak to six games (four goals, five assists). He recorded two goals and an assist in the previous meeting with Montreal.
Los Angeles’ Cal Petersen likely will get the nod in net after Jonathan Quick made 33 saves on Monday. Petersen stopped 26 shots in his lone career start against Montreal on Oct. 30.
–Field Level Media