How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: CBC, CityTV, Sportsnet (English), TVA Sports (French)
Streaming: NHL.tv/NHL Live
There was a time not so long ago that even going down a few goals wasn’t enough to break the spirit of the Canadiens. They had the ability to overcome such deficits, ranking as one of the league’s top offensive teams despite not having one of its most impressive rosters. Even through the defensive issues the team has dealt with all season long they’ve usually tended to find a way to score their way out of it.
That was a feature of their successful road trip through Western Canada. They fell behind in all four games they played, and yet came home for the holidays having won three of them.
Now the tables have turned. In three of their past four games the Habs have been the ones to get out to the early lead, the last two by 2-0 scores, only to see their lead disappear and then watch the other team pot the winning goal.
Injuries at the forward position have certainly taken their toll. Their goals-per-game average has been gradually dropping with each top-nine member who leaves, now to the point when they struggle to get the all-important third goal you need in the NHL (just once so far in January, in a loss to the NHL-worst Detroit Red Wings).
The Canadiens had some hope that they would begin to return to early-season form when Brendan Gallagher came back from a concussion in the last game. However, it has now been reported that he’s dealing with headaches, and may be forced to miss more time.
You can compensate for a dearth of goals with strong defensive play, or make up for poor defending and goaltending by raising your own goal-scoring. You can’t survive having both aspects of the game failing you at the same time, and that’s why the Canadiens have plummeted down the standings since mid-November.
As a result, they’ve dropped to the same level as the rebuilding Ottawa Senators, and tonight’s contest isn’t a divisional battle for playoff seeding, but a faceoff between two clubs in the bottom six of the NHL standings, now turning their attention to the sweepstakes for Alexis Lafrenière.
Tale of the Tape
|53.8% (2nd)||Corsi-for pct.||47.6% (26th)|
|3.09 (15th)||Goals per game||2.74 (22nd)|
|3.24 (23rd)||Goals against per game||3.42 (29th)|
|21.3% (10th)||PP%||11.3% (31st)|
|77.3% (24th)||PK%||80.8% (15th)|
In last night’s game between the 29th-ranked Senators and 31st-place Red Wings, the clubs went 65 minutes without determining a winner, Detroit’s two-goal lead was quickly made back up by Ottawa in the second period, giving each club a point through regulation. Dylan Larkin grabbed the extra point for Detroit in the shootout, bringing their season total to 27, still with a 10-point buffer to the New Jersey Devils in 30th.
Ottawa’s point brings them within five of Montreal with one less game played. A win in a four-point game isn’t in their best interest if they want to stay on track to build their team with youth, but Montreal’s going to prove a major obstacle to that goal.
Versus the five teams that currently rank below them in the standings, the Habs have a 2-4-2 record. They’ve split six points with Ottawa through two games that have gone to overtime, each club earning a win and a loss in the three-on-three period.
Neither team has won a game since the NHL halted for the Christmas break. Montreal is 0-7-1, earning fewer points than in their first eight-game losing streak of the year, while the Senators are 0-4-2, which is their longest run of futility of the 2019-20 campaign. One of those streaks is going end this evening.