While the Ottawa Senators have struggled to earn victories at home of late, the Montreal Canadiens haven’t won anywhere in a while.
Trying to avoid an eighth consecutive defeat, the Canadiens also can extend the Senators’ home skid to four on Saturday night.
A day after the passing of Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur, Montreal (20-47-11, 51 points) will try again for its first victory since April 7 at New Jersey.
Following Thursday’s 6-3 home loss to Philadelphia, the Canadiens have been outscored 31-12 while dropping seven straight in regulation. The team lost seven in a row from Nov. 29-Dec. 14 and 10 straight from Jan. 20-Feb. 13.
“Obviously, the result is the most important thing, and it’s a tough stretch here – it’s a tough time,” Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry told the NHL’s official website. “But for myself, and I think for every guy in the room, we’re working to improve.”
Montreal won seven of eight from Feb. 17-March 5 but is 5-13-4 since.
“It’s been frustrating, it’s been a tough go lately,” Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher also told the NHL’s official website. “Our focus is on the next game here and trying to get a win.”
The Canadiens, though, have won two of three against the Senators (30-41-7, 67 points) this season.
Montreal’s Cole Caufield snapped a five-game point drought with his 19th goal Thursday. He has scored a goal in back-to-back contests vs. Ottawa.
The Senators have dropped their last three home games, each by one goal. Ottawa also has yielded 33 non-shootout goals while mired in a 2-5-2 rut at home, but returns after posting back-to-back road shootout victories vs. Vancouver and Columbus.
On Friday against the Blue Jackets, captain Brady Tkachuk tied the game 7:06 into the third with his career-high 29th goal. Tim Stutzle then recorded the lone shootout score to give the Senators a 2-1 victory.
Ottawa will miss the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season but has a chance to record at least 70 points for the first time since posting 98 in 2016-17.
“We’ll just keep playing hard every night,” Senators coach D.J. Smith said. “They want to play hard right to the end.”
Ottawa’s Filip Gustavsson made 33 saves on Friday for his second straight win after losing seven consecutive starts. He stopped 22 of 27 shots during a 5-1 loss at Montreal on March 19, but should give way to Anton Forsberg, who has career bests of 19 wins and a current 2.79 goals-against average this season.
Forsberg, however, has allowed eight goals while losing each of his last two starts. He did stop 27 shots during Ottawa’s 6-3 win at Montreal on April 5.
The Canadiens’ Carey Price has a 3.36 goals-against average while losing all three of his 2021-22 starts. With teammate Jake Allen bothered by a groin issue, teammate Sam Montembeault might have a chance to end his 0-4-1 starting rut, during which he has a 4.99 goals-against average.
Tkachuk, who’s posted a career-high 61 points this season, has six goals with five assists in his last 11 games vs. Montreal.
–Field Level Media
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