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Game Preview: Jackets look to bounce back in Montreal

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Mike Condon has done his part to dispel the “Carey Price carries the Canadiens” argument.

And in the wake of some disappointing injury news to Montreal’s No. 1 goaltender – and arguable the best goaltender in the NHL – Condon is going to have quite a while to establish himself between the pipes.

The Canadiens announced Monday morning that, after further tests and evaluation done by team doctors, Price would be out of action for at least the next six weeks. It’s tough news for Montreal, who surprised many around the league with a 9-0-0 start, but they have a lot of faith in Condon to not only keep them afloat, but to keep them atop the Atlantic Division.

It was a runaway for the Canadiens in the early going and they’re going to have to lean on that cushion as they go about the next two months. The lead stands at 10 points over the Ottawa Senators heading into Tuesday’s games, with the Canadiens (18-4-3) in a pretty comfortable spot as the calendar year winds down.

Captain Max Pacioretty had led the charge offensively for Montreal, topping the team’s goal-scoring list with 12 on the season, three more than both Brendan Gallagher (out with a broken finger) and grinder Dale Weise, who’s enjoyed quite the start on an individual level.

The Canadiens’ back end is as solid as they come, with Andrei Markov and PK Subban serving as the anchors and eating a lot minutes for coach Michel Therrien. They’re supported by veterans like Jeff Petry and Tom Gilbert, who have settled into second and third-pairing roles but have proven capable of providing necessary relief for the top guys.

Back on Feb. 26, 2015, the Blue Jackets and Canadiens tangled at Nationwide Arena and the home team dug itself a hole early. Subban opened the scoring 1:49 into the game when his slap shot deflected off Marko Dano and into the net, but Brandon Dubinsky answered less than a minute later to tie the game.

Dubinsky left the game due to an injury suffered on that play and did not return. From there, the Canadiens took control and Price did the rest.

Montreal scored twice more in the first period (Markov and then Pacioretty) to boost the lead to 3-1 after 20 minutes, and the Blue Jackets struggled to claw back into the game. Jacob De La Rose scored his first of two goals early in the third period, and then sealed the deal with an empty netter with 17 seconds to play.

Taken one spot after Ryan Murray in 2012 (No. 3 overall), the 22-year-old Galchenyuk seems to be finding his foot hold in a top role with the Canadiens. It’s taken perhaps a bit longer than expected, but Galchenyuk has been red-hot of late and, at times, has been the Canadiens’ most dangerous player with the puck on his stick.

He has scored five goals in the last four games, including a two-goal effort on Saturday night in Montreal’s overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils. Galchenyuk is currently riding a five-game points streak entering Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jackets (five goals, two assists in that span).

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