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Preview: Coyotes vs. Canadiens

Arizona is hosting Montreal on Thursday night

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

GLENDALE -- The Coyotes will begin a stretch of seven games in 12 days on Thursday when they host the Montreal Canadiens. The puck drops at 7 p.m. Arizona time at Gila River Arena.

Arizona (17-28-6) last played on Saturday when it beat San Jose in a shootout to earn its fourth victory in six games.

"We played with a lot of passion and commitment to doing things right and playing hard, and that's what we expect tonight," Head Coach Dave Tippett said.

Mike Smith will start in goal looking to continue his steady play against Montreal in his career. In 10 games vs. the Habs, Smith has posted a 4-2-3 record, a 2.06 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. 

Captain Shane Doan has scored five goals vs. the Canadiens in his career, including three against goalie Carey Price, his second cousin.

Video: Shane Doan previews Thursday's game vs. Habs

Forward Ryan White, who began his NHL career with the Canadiens after they drafted him 66th overall in 2006, has scored three goals over the past five games after scoring just two in his first 32. Beyond that, he's provided a positive presence in the dressing room all season.

White is looking forward to playing Montreal for a second time with the Coyotes. The Habs beat Arizona, 5-2, at the Bell Centre back in October.

"We're playing better lately," White said. "It's difficult when you know you're out of the playoffs, but we're all professionals ... It's always fun to go out there and play hard against your old team."

Video: Ryan White previews Thursday's game vs. Habs

Center Martin Hanzal did not practice on Wednesday because of illness, but is expected to play. If he doesn't, Peter Holland will replace him on the top line between wingers Tobias Rieder and Radim Vrbata.

"We're a lot different now, a lot different," Tippett said when asked what, if anything, he can use from the first game vs. Montreal in October. "Our rookies, they've matured to the point where they feel comfortable in the league now. They were just getting their feet wet, especially in a building like Montreal. There's lots of anxiety with that. That and the fact a lot of our new players who we signed are starting to get real comfortable. Our team has matured as a group. We've gotten better as a group, especially the last little bit here. I feel like we've played better. Hopefully we're in a better place, and we'll see if we can get a better result than last time."

Video: Dave Tippett previews Thursday's home game vs. Habs

Montreal (30-17-8) has lost four games in a row (0-3-1), but remains in first place atop the Atlantic Division standings by eight points.

The Canadiens were shut out in their past two games and haven't scored a goal in the past 137 minutes and 11 seconds. 

"We're going through a tough time, but all good teams go through adversity," defenseman Nathan Beaulieu told NHL.com. "What's important is how we respond. There are things that need to be confronted, and it starts with all of us looking in the mirror."

Captain Max Pacioretty leads the team with 25 goals. Only four other NHLers - Sidney Crosby, Jeff Carter, Alex Ovechkin and Cam Atkinson - have scored more. 

Price, who won the Vezina Trophy in 2014-15, has won only three of his past 12 starts and has given up 38 goals in those 12 games. His record vs. the Coyotes is an eye-popping 8-0-0 with a 1.49 goals-against average and a .949 save percentage.

The Canadiens did not practice on Wednesday, but they did make some roster moves. Forwards Michael McCarron and Daniel Carr were recalled from the American Hockey League, and Jacob De La Rose was re-assigned to the AHL.

OFFICIAL GAME NOTES

BROADCAST INFO:

TV: FOX Sports Arizona

Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM

COYOTES PROJECTED LINEUP VS. CANADIENS:

Forwards

Rieder - Hanzal - Vrbata

Perlini - Dvorak - Doan

Domi - Burmistrov - McGinn

Crouse - Martinook - White

Defensemen

Ekman-Larsson - Schenn

Goligoski - Stone

Chychrun - Murphy

Goalies

Smith

Domingue

 

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