NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, October 9th (All times Eastern)
Montreal Canadiens (1-1-0) at Calgary Flames (1-0-2), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Montreal Canadiens embark on their first road trip of the season as they head out west to battle the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night.
The Canadiens played two in a row at home to open the campaign, losing to Toronto last Tuesday before notching a 4-1 win over Philadelphia on Saturday. Montreal's line of Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller and Brendan Gallagher led the way with a combined six points, while Carey Price made 22 saves.
Eller and Gallagher both had a goal and an assist, while Galchenyuk notched a pair of helpers. Eller has three goals and two assists through the first two games.
"It's a matter of more experience and learning to handle yourself out there," Eller admitted. "A lot of things coming together, but puck pursuit is big, even when we don't have the puck. (It's) about giving them less time to make a pass, and forcing them to make bad ones."
Montreal is set to visit Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Winnipeg on this swing and will look to build some chemistry both on and off the ice over the next week.
"It's a great opportunity for us to spend some time together, get to know each other a little more personally off the ice and build those relationships and bonds. It's something that translates onto the ice," said defenseman Josh Gorges.
Forward Max Pacioretty is expected to be part of the on-ice bonding as he is likely to return to the lineup after missing Saturday's game with a wrist injury.
Fellow forward Rene Bourque could also have some extra jump tonight as he faces his former Flames team for the second time since getting dealt to the Canadiens on Jan. 12 of last year in a deal that sent Mike Cammalleri to Calgary.
Tonight's game will also mark the 500th of his career, one that began with the Chicago Blackhawks before a trade to the Flames. The 31-year-old has amassed 134 goals and 128 points in his career.
"I think as you get older and you get more experienced, you tend to change things and adapt to the speed of the game. Hockey in the east is a little different from the west. I think it's a little bit more wide open," noted Bourque.
The Flames play the middle contest of a three-game homestand tonight and have earned four of a possible six points through three games, sandwiching a pair of post-regulation losses around a win over Columbus last Friday.
Calgary fell 5-4 in overtime to Vancouver on Sunday but was lucky to get a point. The Flames led by two goals in the third period before the Canucks scored three straight. Calgary's David Jones was able to send the game into overtime on a goal with 19 seconds left in regulation, however.
Joey MacDonald made 23 saves, but was beaten by Mike Santorelli 3:17 into overtime.
"We didn't make good enough decisions I thought," said captain Mark Giordano, who had a goal. "It cost us. We can't let teams grab the momentum like that, especially in our home rink."
Sean Monahan, the sixth overall pick of the most recent draft, scored his second goal and third point in this third NHL game, though did struggle at times on the defensive end.
"His offensive upside is there," Flames head coach Bob Hartley said. "That's undeniable. Like any kid of 18 years old, he got spun on one of their goals and lost his man; those are the lessons you need to learn from. What he offers and what he brings is pretty special for an 18-year-old kid."
The Flames and Habs did not meet last season after Calgary took both encounters during the 2011-12 campaign. The Flames have won three straight and six of the past seven meetings overall and are looking to avoid their first home loss to Montreal since Jan. 5, 2002.
Calgary is 6-0 with a tie at home versus Montreal since.
10/09 10:43:28 ET