CALGARY - The Canadiens will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak on Monday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
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Here's everything you need to know heading into the game:
Four points. That's all that separates the Canadiens from the feisty Flames in the North Division standings after Dominique Ducharme's squad fell 5-2 to Darryl Sutter's contingent on Saturday night in Calgary. It was the Habs' second straight loss to the Flames and their fourth defeat in their last five games overall, which is why the playoff race has grown increasingly tight. Centreman Nick Suzuki opened the scoring to get Montreal started on the right foot, but Calgary responded with three unanswered goals of their own, two of which came courtesy of left-winger Johnny Gaudreau. The Canadiens were down 3-2 heading into the third period, but couldn't complete the comeback. Right-winger Brett Ritchie and defenseman Rasmus Andersson added goals for the Flames to seal the deal for the home side. Goaltender Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves to collect his 17th win of the season. Young gun Cayden Primeau made 29 saves in his third career start for the Canadiens. It was his first outing with the big club since December 2019.
The Habs were minus forwards Jonathan Drouin (non-COVID related illness) and Paul Byron (lower-body injury) for the contest, and lost Tomas Tatar (lower-body injury) during the final frame as well.
Mr. Reliable: Right-winger Tyler Toffoli also lit the lamp on the power play on Saturday night, scoring his team-leading 24th goal of the season. That extended his goal streak to three consecutive games. The 29-year-old Scarborough, ON native continues to impress in his first year with Montreal, having officially matched his goal total from all of last year. It took him 68 games to tally 24 goals between Los Angeles and Vancouver in 2019-20, but he accomplished that feat in only 43 games this time around. Five of his goals this season have come against the Flames. Toffoli has 10 games left to reach the 30-goal plateau for the second time in his career, and he's definitely trending in the right direction.
Putting up numbers: Defenseman Erik Gustafsson picked up his first two points in a Canadiens uniform on Saturday night, assisting on both goals. Hopefully, it's a sign of more good things to come for the 29-year-old Swede, who appeared in his second straight game with his new club. He has a history of point production, having amassed a career-high 60 points (17 goals, 43 assists) in 79 games as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2018-19. Gustafsson, who was acquired from Philadelphia at the trade deadline, had 10 points (1 goal, 9 assists) in 24 games with the Flyers this season before departing the City of Brotherly Love.
Sensational dishes: Right-winger Corey Perry's assist on Toffoli's marker was a thing of beauty, of course, but it wasn't the first time that the 16-year veteran has made a slick, highlight-reel feed this season. How about this wonderful feed to Brendan Gallagher back in January versus Calgary at the Bell Centre? Perry has been an excellent addition for Montreal, amassing 18 points (9 goals, 9 assists) in 39 games thus far this year. The Peterborough, ON native, who'll celebrate his 36th birthday on May 16, has also chipped in with 46 hits while averaging 13:14 of ice time per game.
At the other end
The Flames have played almost flawless hockey over the last two games, outscoring the Canadiens by a 9-4 margin to inch closer and closer to catching them for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division. Based on the way Calgary has performed versus Montreal this year, the odds are certainly in their favor to win their final meeting of the regular season. The Flames have posted an impressive 6-2-0 record against the Canadiens in eight meetings, collecting 12 out of a possible 16 points. They've also scored 23 goals and surrendered just 13 along the way. No doubt Sutter will have his group fired up for this all-important matchup that could move the Alberta-based franchise to within two points of Montreal with a victory in regulation.
Markstrom magic: Markstrom has owned the Canadiens in seven starts this season, compiling a 6-1-0 record, along with a 1.29 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage after stopping 170 of 179 shots against. That includes one shutout as well. The 31-year-old Swede is coming up clutch at the biggest time of the year for the Flames and keeping them squarely in the postseason hunt. Solving Markstrom has proven tough for Montreal, but Ducharme's troops have no choice but to increase the traffic level in front of him on Monday night to obscure his vision. The former Florida Panthers draft pick is just three victories shy of reaching the 20-win plateau for a fourth consecutive season.
Here's Johnny: The fact that Gaudreau came alive on Saturday night isn't good news for the Canadiens. The 27-year-old Salem, NJ native snapped a four-game scoring drought with his second multi-goal performance of the year. Gaudreau, who leads the Flames with 17 goals, also tied centreman Sean Monahan with his fifth game-winning snipe of the campaign. Following the contest, Primeau talked about wanting Gaudreau's first-period goal back, but the shot was far too perfect to be denied. Taking away time and space from the former Hobey Baker Award winner must be a top priority on Monday night.
No damage done: At least centreman Elias Lindholm didn't get on the scoresheet on Saturday night. His point streak was snapped at seven games. Lindholm had amassed nine points (5 goals, 4 assists) between April 5 and April 23 before the Canadiens managed to finally stop him. The 26-year-old Swede still leads the Flames with 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) on the year, and he remains a constant offensive threat. Lindholm has seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) versus Montreal this season.
Here are a few key stats from the eight previous meetings between Montreal and Calgary this year:
|MONTREAL || ||CALGARY |
|2-6-0 ||Record ||6-2-0 |
|13 ||Goals ||23 |
|200 ||Shots on goal ||250 |
|14.29% ||PP% ||18.2% |
|81.8% ||PK% ||85.71% |
Puck drop is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game on Sportsnet West, TSN2 and RDS, and listen to all the action on TSN Radio 690 and 98,5 fm.