How to watch
Start time: 10:00 PM EST / 7:00 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Canucks region: Sportsnet Pacific
Streaming: NHL.tv/NHL Live
After winning three games in a row, the Montreal Canadiens simply needed to beat the 31st-ranked team to extend that streak to four and head out on a long road trip with a heap of confidence. Instead the Habs were shut out for 59 minutes on home ice, managing to get one goal late but not enough to overcome the two they had allowed to the team sporting the NHL’s worst offensive and defensive numbers. It was a frustrating, embarrassing defeat by itself, all the more so when you add it to their previous record versus the bottom two teams in the league this season and now come up with a 0-3-1 mark.
Instead of sitting third in the Atlantic Division with a chance to move back up to second, Montreal is now fourth in the wild-card race. They can’t afford many more losses to teams outside of the playoff picture, and tonight’s opponent fits that bill.
Tale of the Tape
|2-0-0||H2H Record (18-19)||0-2-0|
|53.9% (2nd)||Corsi-for pct.||50.4%|
|3.12 (12th)||Goals per game||3.15 (11th)|
|3.21 (25th)||Goals against per game||3.06 (18th)|
|20.0% (13th)||PP%||25.3% (4th)|
|76.0% (27th)||PK%||81.5% (14th)|
The Vancouver Canucks have plenty of talent in their lineup. The runner-up in the 2017-18 Calder Trophy race, Brock Boeser, has 32 points on the season. Last year’s winner, Elias Pettersson, leads the team with 35 points and 14 goals. The current assist leader, defenceman Quinn Hughes, is the member of the team vying for that award this season, making up ground in the absence of Colorado’s Cale Makar.
The roster also boasts Bo Horvat, a good offensive talent in his own right, and the inspired addition of J.T Miller, a player on pace for the best season of his career.
Like the Canadiens, the Canucks haven’t had much production from lower in the lineup or from all but a few members of the defence corps. The teams rank right next to each other in goals per game, relying on a few great players to contribute to what are middle-of-the-pack offences.
It was a low-scoring series between the two clubs last year. After combining for 19 goals in two games in 2017-18, they produced just seven a season ago. Much more important than the goals scored, the Canadiens nabbed all four points that were on the table, one of three sweeps they managed (the Red Wings were included in that group).
As they were in those two contests, the Canucks are currently having some difficulty scoring goals. They’ve found the net just seven times in their past four games, but did get one victory from a 1-0 overtime shutout in that span. The Canadiens will hope that low productivity holds for one more game, and that their own can come to life.
That means getting scoring from more than just Brendan Gallagher, who seems to be growing frustrated with needing to work so hard to give his team a chance. Seeing a four-game goal streak come to an end last week, the Canadiens’ sparkplug has taken four minor penalties in the past two outings.
The alternate captain doesn’t deserve the blame for the loss on Saturday night — he wasn’t even in the box for a Red Wings goal — but he and his teammates need to stay composed and disciplined if they’re going to contain the Canucks’ top weapons. Sending out the NHL’s 27th-ranked penalty kill versus its number-four power play is a recipe for disaster, and the result could depend on how well the Habs limit such situations.