BROSSARD, Quebec -- After opening their 2014-15 schedule with four straight road games, the Montreal Canadiens finally get to play in front of their fans at Bell Centre on Thursday against the Boston Bruins (7:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, SN360).
Despite a 7-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, the Canadiens are off to a 3-1-0 start after beginning the season with wins against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers.
Montreal has allowed the first goal in each of its past three games and has trailed at some point in every game. The Canadiens were down 3-0 in the third period Saturday in Philadelphia, but they rallied to tie it before winning in a shootout.
"We haven't had good starts in the last couple of games," center Lars Eller said. "We have to turn that around and I think last season that was a bit of a trademark for us, that we really always had good starts, so there's no excuses for that. We've got to come out hard, especially at home, and set the tone."
Montreal coach Michel Therrien confirmed that defenseman Alexei Emelin will return Thursday after missing the past two games because of an upper-body injury. Expect rookie Nathan Beaulieu to be a healthy scratch for the first time this season, though it remains to be seen who will sit among the Canadiens' 13 forwards, with either Travis Moen or Dale Weise the most likely candidate.
The Canadiens' home opener will be the first game between the longtime rivals since Montreal eliminated the Bruins from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a seven-game Eastern Conference Second Round series. Weise and Emelin each got an earful from Boston left wing Milan Lucic in the handshake line.
Weise has downplayed the incident and is more focused on facing the Bruins.
"I want to play every one," Weise said. "It doesn't matter what team it is. I think obviously playing at home, there's no better place to play than here. So if I get the chance I'll be ready."
Moen was left out of the lineup Monday for the third time in four games.
The Bruins didn't skate Thursday after a 3-2 shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.
Here are the projected lineups:
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Simon Gagne
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith
Chris Kelly - Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille - Ryan Spooner - Seth Griffith
Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton
Matt Bartkowski - Dennis Seidenberg
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
Scratched: Matt Fraser, Kevan Miller
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Brendan Gallagher
Alex Galchenyuk - Tomas Plekanec - Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
Rene Bourque - Lars Eller - Jiri Sekac
Brandon Prust - Manny Malhotra - Travis Moen
Alexei Emelin - P.K. Subban
Andrei Markov - Tom Gilbert
Jarred Tinordi - Mike Weaver
Scratched: Dale Weise, Nathan Beaulieu
Status report: Gagne played his first NHL game since April 27, 2013 on Wednesday. The veteran forward moved his way up to the Bruins' top line with Krejci and Lucic by the end of the game, which was the 800th regular-season game of his career. ... Markov is one goal short of 100 for his career. ... The Canadiens' power play has yet to score in 14 opportunities.
Who's hot: Smith has a goal and an assist in his past two games for Boston. He improved to 3-for-5 in career shootout attempts in the Bruins' 3-2 win Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings. ... Montreal's Gallagher has a goal and an assist in his past two games.