How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Coyotes region: Fox Sports Arizona Plus
Streaming: NHL.tv/NHL Live
Extra time has been very kind to the Canadiens over the past week. Three times their games went beyond the regulation 60 minutes, and three times they celebrated after claiming the additional point.
On Thursday night, the hero was Jeff Petry, who fired a perfect shot in overtime to beat the Anaheim Ducks. That result was bookended by two heroic performances from Ilya Kovalchuk, scoring in a shootout versus one of his former teams, the New Jersey Devils, on Tuesday, and then capping off the comeback on a national stage Saturday evening, causing the Bell Centre to erupt with an overtime goal versus the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It was the fourth time this season the Canadiens strung three wins together, and more importantly that recent record extends back to a 9-3-0 mark since since they snapped their latest eight-game skid. Projections had them needing to finish the year with about a .750 points percentage to reach the post-season cutoff, and that’s what they’ve achieved in that 12-game span.
The Habs can start to look up from the calculations to see the teams they’re chasing in the standings. A perfect result on Saturday would have seen them a mere four points behind Toronto, but they got the second-best outcome by claiming the regulation/overtime win to reduce the gap by one.
Running the winning streak to four will get them three points out of third. The obstacle in that path is an Arizona Coyotes team that has won one of its past eight games.
Tale of the Tape
|54.2% (2nd)||Corsi-for pct.||48.1% (26th)|
|3.04 (17th)||Goals per game||2.72 (22nd)|
|3.02 (14th)||Goals against per game||2.68 (4th)|
|19.6% (19th)||PP%||19.2% (20th)|
|79.4% (19th)||PK%||81.9% (10th)|
It was a promising start to the season for Arizona, but they’re headed toward a disappointing end to their season; a familiar refrain since the last lockout. The Coyotes have finished fourth in the Pacific Division four times, and may be in store for a fifth, dating back to 2012-13, failing to make the post-season a single time.
As recently as January 15, the Coyotes were sitting atop the Pacific Division with 57 points. They’ve only added four points to their total since, and that’s not nearly enough to stay competitive in the most tightly contested division in the NHL.
Arizona is one of the league’s best defensive teams; their 2.68 goals against per game ranks fourth-best, and they also hold a top-10 penalty kill. The loss of starting goalie Darcy Kuemper was a blow to that aspect of their game, but with organization deep at the goaltending position, Antti Raanta and Adin Hill have held their own in his absence.
The real issues are at the opposite end of the ice. They average fewer than three goals per game, and that makes it tough to contend.
The team made a blockbuster move to address that issue and ensure that the hot start wouldn’t fade, but things haven’t gone to plan since acquiring Taylor Hall on December 16. Joining the team from the shockingly poor New Jersey Devils (outside of their games versus Montreal), Hall has put up decent production, with seven goals and 12 assists in 22 games. but the team needed a superstar — expected a superstar with the package including three prospects and a first-round pick they put together — and that’s not quite the level of performance they’ve received.
Montreal is one of those team netting three goals per game (when the club isn’t missing several top-six players). Their own defensive play has finally gotten to a point where that offence is enough to string some wins together. They also made a move to help out on the offensive side, and there can be no complaints about how Kovalchuk has fared with his new team.
On Saturday, the Habs also got a (clearly rusty) Jonathan Drouin back, and he will only help the team improve its production over the final 25 games. The Canadiens are at the point where the forward corps is better than it was even to start the season when they were holding down a playoff spot, and that’s bad news for tonight’s goal-starved opponent.