CANADIENS (34-21-7) vs. KINGS (34-22-6)
On Monday, the Habs begin their four-game western road trip with a game against the Los Angeles Kings.
The Canadiens are looking to extend a month-long point streak. The team has not lost in regulation since February 2nd and has accrued five out of a possible six points since returning from the Olympic break. Saturday against the Maple Leafs, the Canadiens got a late powerplay goal from P.K. Subban to force overtime before Max Pacioretty won the game in the extra frame with his 29th of the year. Peter Budaj made his third consecutive start for the home team and stopped 22 shots in the 4-3 win.
Also undefeated in the past four weeks, the Kings dismissed the Carolina Hurricanes at home Saturday by a score of 3-1. Mike Richards and Alex Martinez put the Kings up by one and Justin Williams added a late empty-net goal. Former Hab Mike Komisarek played 7:54 for the Hurricanes and accounted for six penalty minutes on three separate infractions. Jonathan Quick stopped 24 of 25 shots for the Kings.
On paper, Montreal and Los Angeles seem to be very similar teams. The visiting team has banked 75 standing points compared to the home team’s 74. While the Kings rank a lowly 24th in the league in terms of goals scored (150), the Habs are ranked five spots higher with nine more goals scored (19th, 159). However, the Darryl Sutter-coached team makes up the difference by being stingy defensively. Led by a well-rounded defense corps and the sterling play of Jonathan Quick, the Kings have allowed the fewest goals out of any NHL team this season (133). For their part, the Habs are ranked eighth with 152 goals against. In practice, however, look for the Kings to assert themselves with strong puck possession. Though lacking in conversion rate so far this season, they habitually out-shoot their opposition and is known to be a team which draws its share of penalties.
Carey Price, Michael Bournival and Brandon Prust all made the trip with the team. All four players are day-to-day and may return to action at some point during the week. Ryan White, who missed two games due to the flu, will draw in for George Parros against the Kings.
If Price is unable to make the start, then the Canadiens will turn toward Peter Budaj for the fourth straight game. He is 6-2-0-1 lifetime against the Kings.
Monday’s game will be the second of two season meetings between the teams. On December 10 2013, the Kings defeated the Habs by a score of 6-0 at the Bell Centre. However, Montreal had won the seven previous meetings against Los Angeles and has not lost at the Staples Center since March 2003.
Puck drop will be at 10:30 PM E.S.T.