Canadiens set for home debut
The Montreal Canadiens return from a break hoping to put the brakes on a losing streak Thursday night at Bell Centre against the surprising Colorado Avalanche.
It will be the first chance for many fans to get an up-close look at the new Canadiens, who started the season with five consecutive road games.
Montreal has lost three straight, by a combined score of 14-6. The team last played on Saturday in Edmonton, falling behind by three goals before mounting a late rally in a 3-2 final.
Brian Gionta scored his third goal of the season for the Canadiens, with Roman Hamrlik getting the Habs to within one goal. Carey Price stopped 16 shots in net.
Montreal's top four defencemen played huge minutes against the Oilers, with the team depleted by injuries to Andrei Markov and Ryan O'Byrne.
The Canadiens this week called up Shawn Belle from the American Hockey League to shore up their defensive depth.
Up front, coach Jacques Martin has been juggling to try to find the right combinations.
Mike Cammalleri has yet to score, although he has four assists.
More concerning is the fact a number of young players who were expected to step up offensively are off to slow starts. Maxim Lapierre, Max Pacioretty, Matt D'Agostini and Kyle Chipchura have not scored yet.
Colorado (4-1-1) is playing the fifth of a seven-game road trip.
The Avalanche downed Toronto 4-1 on Tuesday to continue their surprising start to the season after finishing last in the Western Conference last season.
Darcy Tucker scored a goal and one assist against the Maple Leafs, his longtime team.
Forward David Jones also scored and has two goals and two assists in two games after returning from a series of injuries.
Teen rookies Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly each registered an assist.
Craig Anderson finished with 30 saves in making his fourth start in six days.
The Avalanche will be without defenceman John-Michael Liles after he hurt his shoulder against the Leafs, but the injury is not as serious as initially feared. Liles is expected to be out for two weeks.
The Canadiens won the only meeting between the clubs last season, a 4-2 result on Feb. 13.
Montreal will continue its five-game homestand on Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada against Ottawa (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 6:30 p.m. ET).