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Game preview: Canadiens vs. Coyotes

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

CANADIENS (20-12-3) vs. COYOTES (18-9-5)

On Tuesday night, the Habs will attempt to kick-start their offensive game at home against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Coming off a disappointing 2-1 loss against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, Michel Therrien's players will look to make a bigger impact on the score sheet against the 23rd-ranked defensive team in the league. Last time out, Alex Galchenyuk was the only Montreal skater to light the lamp against Scott Clemmensen, while Jesse Winchester and Nick Bjugstad scored for the Panthers. Peter Budaj made 23 save to record his second regulation loss in eight starts this season.

On Saturday, the Coyotes had similar offensive woes against the Carolina Hurricanes. Tough guy Paul Bissonnette was the only Phoenix scorer, as Justin Peters turned away 37 of 38 shots to help the Canes to a 3-1 victory. Nathan Gerbe, Jeff Skinner and Eric Staal scored for the home team, while Mike Smith stopped 30 of 32 shots against in the loss.

Former Hab Mike Ribeiro is Phoenix's leading scorer with 26 points in 33 games, while captain Shane Doan, Carey Price's cousin, leads in goals with 12. Another core member of the Phoenix offense is winger Radim Vrbata, who is one of the league's most prolific volume shooters. In 30 games played, the Czech has amassed 105 attempts on net, 18 more than teammate Martin Hanzal, and five more than Brendan Gallagher, who leads Habs forwards in the shots on net category.

On the Phoenix blueline, 22 year-old Oliver Ekman-Larsson figures to play heavy minutes for coach Dave Tippett's team. He'll be backed up by oft-used defensemen Keith Yandle and Zbynek Michalek. In net, Tippett may elect to start either Mike Smith, or Thomas Greiss, who has a 4-2-0 record this season

Absent for the Coyotes will be Doan and Lauri Korpikoski, who are both on injured reserve. Derek Morris is questionable for Tuesday as well.

Rene Bourque returns to the lineup for Montreal, after being out since December 2nd with an upper-body injury. Carey Price will start for the Habs.

Tuesday's game will be the first of two matchups between Montreal and Phoenix in 2013-14. The Habs have not lost to the Coyotes since 1998, and have 10 wins and three ties since then.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST


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