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Looking to start strong in San Jose

The Canadiens have the opportunity to right the ship in California this week beginning on Tuesday night

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

SAN JOSE - The Canadiens begin their California road swing on Tuesday night in a building that has been anything but hospitable to them for quite some time now.

It's been nearly 18 years since they've managed to down the Sharks in their own barn, with the Canadiens' last victory in Northern California coming back on November 23, 1999.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Bon matin en direct de San Jose, partisans des Canadiens!Good morning from San Jose, Habs fans! #GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/tE300BUvKw

On Monday, head coach Claude Julien ran his troops through a spirited workout at the SAP Center ahead of a contest that will see his club try to snap a 10-game losing streak in Silicon Valley - and a four-game winless streak early on this year, too, dating back to the season-opener in Buffalo.

"It's never a bad thing [going on a long trip], but it would be even better if we could win some games here," said Julien, whose squad will also play in Los Angeles on Wednesday and Anaheim on Friday before heading home. "I don't think there's anything negative about it. We have to make the most out of it and play good games to come back with a record on the plus side."

Video: Claude Julien's press conference

Jonathan Drouin is certainly eager to help his new club finally exorcise those San Jose demons and then keep things rolling in SoCal. 

"I've heard a lot about the Canadiens having trouble playing out west. Sometimes, there are buildings where you don't like playing and you aren't comfortable. I like playing here in San Jose and I like playing on the west coast," mentioned Drouin, who leads the Canadiens with three points (1g - 2a) on the year. "We're hoping to change things this year."

Speaking of switching things up, Brendan Gallagher did just that by heading to the barber shop on Sunday evening and sporting a fresh buzz cut to the rink for Monday's on-ice session. 

"I needed a change. I think it's been, I could be wrong, since 1999 that we last won here [in San Jose], so I'm trying to change something," explained Gallagher, referencing his new look that drew questions aplenty from reporters in the locker room. "Whatever it is, hopefully it works. I don't know how I feel about it now, but it was a spur of the moment thing. I'm just going with it, I guess."

Video: Brendan Gallagher on his brand new haircut

While it remains to be seen whether or not Gallagher's trim will prove to be the Canadiens' lucky charm, Julien's charges firmly believe that things are trending in the right direction - even if their win-loss record doesn't necessarily reflect that at this point in time. 

"I think if you look at our five games, we've gotten better each game. I think as long as we're doing that, the results are going to come," said Jeff Petry, who scored his first goal of the season in last Saturday night's 4-3 overtime loss to the Maple Leafs in Montreal. "It's a bounce here or a bounce there and games can have different results. You can't be out there hoping that we'll get the right bounce. We've got to go out and create the chances on our own."

Video: Jeff Petry on generating scoring chances

Then, it's a matter of stepping up and capitalizing on those chances, of course, which hasn't come easy to start the 2017-18 campaign.

"The last few games, we've been playing pretty good hockey. There's just a bit of a desperation factor I think we need to get in our game," insisted Gallagher. "There are certain moments, certain shifts where the game's on the line and I think we can get a bit better. It's not a big thing, but if we can make that adjustment, we can hopefully turn those losses into wins."

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