NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, December 21st
(All times Eastern)
Montreal Canadiens (13-14-7) at Chicago Blackhawks (21-9-4), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens are trying to adjust to their new
head coach, but the schedule hasn't been doing them any favors.
Two nights after visiting the top team in the Eastern Conference, the Habs
continue their longest road trip of the season in Chicago to take on the NHL-
Last in the Northeast Division with 33 points, the Canadiens made the move on
Saturday to fire head coach Jacques Martin and replace him for the rest of the
year with Randy Cunneyworth. Montreal was bested 5-3 by the Devils in his
coaching debut later that day and then dropped a 3-2 decision at Boston on
Erik Cole scored with 1:14 left to play to pull the Canadiens to within one,
but they failed to net the equalizer. Tomas Plekanec also scored and Carey
Price made 28 saves in Montreal's third straight loss and ninth in 12 games.
"We need to find our game and play a full 60 minutes," said Plekanec. "We're
close, we just need to get some wins under our belt, especially with these
Montreal is 7-5-7 in one-goal games this year and lost the opener of a six-
game road trip that carries the club through the rest of 2011.
While the Bruins lead the East with 45 points, the Blackhawks are tops in the
NHL with 46. That makes for a challenging stretch for Cunneyworth, who finally
got to run his first full practice with the club on Tuesday.
"It really is just about doing the little things. When we get away from the
little things, it can go horribly wrong and I think against good teams they
prey upon those little things," the coach said. "Right now we're just trying
to get everything in order and continue to be more consistent with doing the
With Montreal set to visit Winnipeg on Thursday, Cunneyworth said he will
start backup Peter Budaj in net tonight.
The Blackhawks could also go with a different netminder, Montreal native Corey
Crawford, after playing in Pittsburgh last night. Ray Emery started that game
and allowed three goals on 28 shots in a 3-2 setback that snapped Chicago's
season-high five-game win streak.
Chicago trailed by three heading into the third and outshot Pittsburgh 19-4 in
the frame, getting goals from Jonathan Toews and Viktor Stalberg, but it
couldn't muster a game-tying goal.
"We just got too far behind in the first two periods," said Stalberg. "We
played better in the third, but it wasn't enough to dig ourselves out of the
Toews netted his team-leading 19th goal of the season, tied for the second
most in the NHL, while Marian Hossa had an assist to push his point streak to
six straight games. He has four goals and seven assists in that span, pushing
his season point total to 37, which is tied for sixth in the league.
Chicago begins a season-high five-game homestand tonight and will play nine of
its next 10 at the United Center. It is 11-2-3 as the host this season,
including 4-0-1 this month.
Like last night, the Blackhawks dominated the third period of their lone
meeting with the Canadiens last year, outshooting them 20-9 in the third
period of a 2-1 overtime loss in Montreal.
Montreal has won three of four and six of the past eight meetings overall, but
has lost its last two trips to Chicago since its last win there on Feb. 27,
12/21 11:08:45 ET