Price shows fire for Canadiens
As the calendar turns to February, it's the Los Angeles Kings who are shining and not the Montreal Canadiens as they square off Saturday afternoon (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 2 p.m. ET).
Montreal (27-15-6) returns for the first of two weekend matinee games after a gloomy trip to Florida. The Canadiens lost to Tampa Bay and Florida, putting a losing streak that started before the all-star game at four games.
The Canadiens are in no danger of falling out of the playoff picture, but are just sixth in the Eastern Conference.
Goaltender Carey Price, usually quite placid, was steamed after the 5-1 defeat to the Panthers on Thursday. He has allowed 14 goals in his last three games, struggling to find his game since an injury absence earlier in the month.
Price will be back in the net against the Kings, and he was given some advice by coach Guy Carbonneau at Friday's practice.
"He just said you can't put it all on your own shoulders, we have to get through this as a team," said Price.
Lang leads team
Robert Lang scored the lone goal for Montreal in the last contest, his team-leading 17th. Saku Koivu drew one of the assists and has two points in three games since returning.
Forwards Tomas Plekanec, Chris Higgins and Sergei Kostitsyn are all cold, each having gone at least seven games without a goal.
Plekanec practised on a line with Kostitsyn and Guillaume Latendresse on Friday.
"I'm just trying to find my game and do my job well and play the system, and if every guy on the line is going to do the same thing, we're gonna be better," said Plekanec.
Los Angeles begin Saturday six points back in the Western Conference playoff race, but have been showing signs of turning a corner and could conceivably make the post-season for the first time since the 2001-02 season.
Veteran coach Terry Murray, in his first year with the Kings, had his young club concentrate on sound defence at the beginning of the campaign, and now offensive dividends are being reaped.
Los Angeles has outscored foes 16-9 during its current three-game winning streak.
Dustin Brown, the team's lone all-star last weekend, scored twice and assisted in the team's 5-2 victory over Chicago on Thursday. Kyle Quincey had two assists in the win.
Unable to find a spot on the deep Detroit blue line, Quincey has 27 points in 44 games since Los Angeles plucked him from the waiver wire early in the season.
Longtime Edmonton Oilers Jarret Stoll has struggled offensively in his first season with Los Angeles but scored against the Blackhawks, giving him points in his last three games.
The Kings are embarking on a five-game road trip, which continues Tuesday in Ottawa.
Montreal is playing the first of three games at Bell Centre, which played host to a boxing match Friday night. The Canadiens play Northeast rival Boston on Sunday afternoon (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 2 p.m. ET).