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Coyotes Seek Elusive Win vs. Canadiens

Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 1:28 PM

NHL.com | Dave Vest

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Coyotes Seek Elusive Win vs. Canadiens
Phoenix Coyotes vs. Montréal Canadiens


COYOTES (18-9-5) at CANADIENS (20-12-3)

Season series: The Montreal Canadiens and Phoenix Coyotes have not played since Nov. 10, 2011, and this will be Phoenix’s first visit to Montreal since Oct. 25, 2010. The Canadiens have not lost to the Coyotes since Dec. 9, 1998, with 10 wins and three ties since that date.

Big story: Both the Canadiens and Coyotes have hit a rough patch since getting off to hot starts to the season. The Coyotes were 14-4-3 on Nov. 16 and sitting third in the Pacific Division standings, three points behind the division leaders at the time, the Anaheim Ducks. Since then, the Coyotes have gone 4-5-2 and are fifth in the division, 10 points behind Anaheim.

Montreal's struggles have been more recent, losing three of their past four games while scoring three goals. However, it could be argued that Montreal’s play slipped before this slump, with wins against the New Jersey Devils (twice), the Boston Bruins, the Buffalo Sabres and the New York Islanders coming in spite of being outplayed for a significant portion of each of those games.

Team scope:

Coyotes:

In their past 11 games, the Coyotes have allowed three goals or more seven times. That is traditionally not the hallmark of a Dave Tippett-coached team. Phoenix is fourth in the NHL in goals scored per game at 3.12, but 25th in the League in goals against at 3.06.

The latest game where the Coyotes allowed three goals came Saturday in a 3-1 loss at home to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Despite the loss, goalie Mike Smith felt good about his 30-save effort.

"I felt really confident coming out of that game and probably the most comfortable that I've felt all year," Smith said. “And if I told you the reason why, I think you guys would think either I'm crazy or I'm full of myself.”

Smith, who will start tonight, owns a 2-0-3 record with a 2.25 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage in six career games vs. Montreal.

"He's been pretty steady," Tippett said about Smith's play this season. "I think if you ask him there's some times when he'd like to be a little better but he's also had some very good stretches. This road trip, I think is a great test for him. He says he's feeling strong right now and he needs to come out and have a good road trip for us to see if we can get some points."

Montreal native Mike Ribeiro began his NHL career with Montreal during the 1999-2000 season after the Canadiens selected him in the second round (45th overall) of the 1998 Entry Draft. Ribeiro notched 50 goals and 103 assists in 276 games with Montreal from 1999-2006.

He's eager to play in Montreal tonight.

"I'm not really a nervous guy, (I'm) just excited to be here and to play against my old team and see my friends and family," Ribeiro said. "I think it's just nice to be here. Hopefully it can be a great night."

This game is the first of a four-game trip for the Coyotes leading up to the Christmas break.

"I know it’s only December, but we have to treat these four games as 'must wins' if we want to make a move up the standings," forward Mikkel Boedker wrote in his blog for the team's website. "We don’t want to stay in eighth or ninth place all season. We want to be first or second."

Canadiens: Smith may enjoy facing the Canadiens because their offense has gone completely dry in the past couple of weeks.

Montreal has been outshot in six of its past eight games and has scored 14 goals in that span. A big problem is a power play being anything but, snapping an 0-for-16 drought over a seven-game stretch when Alex Galchenyuk scored Montreal’s lone goal in the third period of a 2-1 loss at home to the Florida Panthers on Sunday.

The Canadiens have scored 86 goals, but 26 have come on the power play (30.2 percent). So when the power play goes cold, the team is likely to follow.

When asked Sunday what was wrong with the power play, Galchenyuk had a very simple analysis.

“We’re not scoring goals,” he said.

Who’s hot: For the Coyotes, Ribeiro has nine points in seven games, and Rob Kilnkhammer and Boedker each had two goals in a 6-3 win against the Islanders on Thursday … For the Canadiens, Galchenyuk has three goals in five games.

Injury report: The Coyotes are without captain Shane Doan (illness), who may join the team during this four-game trip. Left wing Lauri Korpikoski (upper body) is on the trip but the date of his return is uncertain …The Canadiens are missing left wing Rene Bourque (upper body), though he should resume skating soon. Defenseman Davis Drewiske (shoulder) is out long term.

2013-2014 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 06 '14MTL 2 at PHX 5O. Ekman-Larsson
Dec 17 '13PHX 1 at MTL 3M. Pacioretty
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
M. Ribeiro3391726-31422
R. Vrbata3191625-41232
S. Doan27121123+1862
M. Boedker33101222+01220
M. Hanzal3081422-33921
K. Yandle3341822-52420
O. Ekman-Larsson3341721+72223
A. Vermette3391019+51820
R. Klinkhammer337714+14801
D. Morris214913+41000
D. Moss333811+3800
M. Stone27718-41421
L. Korpikoski18437+01200
K. Chipchura33257-32500
P. Bissonnette21156+41100
T. Kennedy18156+1200
D. Schlemko25145-3800
J. Halpern22134-61000
C. Murphy10134+3601
Z. Michalek24044+101000
R. Klesla15123-11000
J. Szwarz17202-51901
A. Miele4022+2500
D. Rundblad10011-3400
C. Brown5000+01700
L. Lessio3000-2200
B. Yip2000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
M. Smith2814-8-5809012.94.911
T. Greiss84-2-0141882.20.926
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
P. Subban3642226+83520
T. Plekanec36111122+91034
A. Galchenyuk36101222-21622
A. Markov3631720+111220
M. Pacioretty2714418+21255
B. Gionta3551318+31410
L. Eller368917+02222
B. Gallagher359716+52440
D. Desharnais3431013+01011
M. Bournival316511-11011
D. Briere265510-21421
R. Diaz3601010+0800
R. Bourque24617-11431
J. Gorges36167+7600
B. Prust25336+04002
T. Moen31156+11800
A. Emelin16033-22700
R. White28022-52700
F. Bouillon26022-121300
N. Beaulieu5011+2000
D. Murray19000-9900
G. Parros9000-54200
J. Tinordi6000+0900
M. Blunden6000-2500
L. Leblanc5000+2200
P. Holland5000+0000
G. Dumont2000+0000
M. St Pierre1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
C. Price2816-10-2548431.96.936
P. Budaj95-2-1172361.94.928
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