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Canadiens vs. Avalanche: Game thread, rosters, lines, and how to watch

Montreal hopes to erase a losing streak in the first of four games on the road.

Colorado Avalanche v Montreal Canadiens

With two-thirds of the 2017-18 season already under wraps, the Montreal Canadiens still find themselves lacking the love, 12 points back of the Carolina Hurricanes, who currently hold the second and last wild-card spot.

This evening, they travel to the Mile High City for a date with the Colorado Avalanche, a team needing to accumulate all wins possible if they want to make the playoffs. Montreal (22-26-7) hasn’t been able to string together any real consistency as of late, and have dropped their last two decisions.

Last Thursday, they fell 5-3 to the Philadelphia Flyers, and despite having putting up a good game offensively, it just wasn’t enough. Then, on this past Saturday night, they welcomed back P.K. Subban for the second time, along with his Central Division-leading Nashville Predators. Despite having the upper edge, firing shots from every angle at former Olympian Pekka Rinne by a 49-32 margin, they could only muster two goals, and went goalless in the shootout. Rinne was sensational in overtime, when the Habs outshot Nashville 10-2. Defenceman Karl Alzner was the lone Hab without a shot in the game.

It seems like Montreal has had a lot of struggles offensively this season. One bright spot is that of Brendan Gallagher, who notched his 20th goal of the season on Saturday night. He is nearing a season-high, which is 24 set back in the 2014-15 season.

On the blue line, with Shea Weber still on the sidelines, Jeff Petry has taken over as top defenceman for the bleu-blanc-rouge, with eight goals and 26 points this season. His goal total tied a career high, set last season through 80 games. The Ann Arbor, Michigan native also hit a milestone last game, playing the 500th of his career.

Heading into Colorado, the Canadiens do have the edge against them this season. Despite playing nine games over .500, the Avalanche (30-21-4) are still 11th place in the very competitive Western Conference. Their lone matchup versus Montreal was back on January 23 at the Bell Centre. The Avalanche entered the game having won 10 straight, but the Canadiens played spoiler and didn’t let Colorado go up to 11, winning 4-2. Forward Jonathan Drouin, who has been mired in a sub-par season, notched a goal and added two assists for his first three-point game as a Hab. All-star Carey Price made 20 saves in the win.

Nathan MacKinnon, also known as the other great hockey player from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, scored in that game, and was on pace for the Art Ross Trophy as NHL leading point-getter, until an upper-body injury sidelined him on January 31. Although his 61 points are still good for 11th in the league, it might be a steep mountain to climb when he returns to the lineup.

Tonight’s game will be the first of four on the road, travelling after tonight’s game to Arizona to face the Coyotes tomorrow, then the hottest team in the league in the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday before concluding against the Flyers on Tuesday. Their next home game won’t be until next Thursday when they host the New York Rangers.

Puck drop is at 9:30 PM EST / 6:30 PM PST

How to watch

In Canada: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Avalanche region: ALT
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL GameCentre Live, NHL Center Ice

Montreal Canadiens projected lineup

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Max Pacioretty Paul Byron Artturi Lehkonen
Charles Hudon Tomas Plekanec Brendan Gallagher
Alex Galchenyuk Jonathan Drouin Nikita Scherbak
Nicolas Deslauriers Byron Froese Logan Shaw

Defencemen

Left Defence Right Defence
Left Defence Right Defence
Karl Alzner Jeff Petry
Joe Morrow Jordie Benn
Victor Mete David Schlemko

Goaltenders

Goaltenders
Goaltenders
Antti Niemi
Carey Price

Colorado Avalanche projected lineup

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Gabriel Landeskog Alexander Kerfoot Colin Wilson
Tyson Jost JT Compher Mikko Rantanen
Gabriel Bourque Carl Sodeberg Matthew Nieto
Nail Yakupov Dominic Toninato AJ Greer

Defencemen

Left Defence Right Defence
Left Defence Right Defence
Nikita Zadorov Erik Johnson
Anton Lindholm Tyson Barrie
Samuel Girard Patrik Nemeth

Goaltenders

Goaltenders
Goaltenders
Jonathan Bernier
Semyon Varlamov