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At the Rink: Bruins at Canadiens

by Sean Farrell

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens are focusing on every little thing in preparation for the Boston Bruins at Bell Centre on Wednesday.

Montreal has lost consecutive games in regulation for the second time this season. The Canadiens' 1-2-1 skid also matches their worst four-game stretch.

"I just think it's little things," defenseman P.K. Subban said after the morning skate at the Canadians' suburban practice facility. "On the penalty kill, I think we've got to bear down on our clears, making sure pucks get out. I think we're giving teams second and third opportunities and that just adds momentum to their team. If we get those pucks out, we clear it, now they don't have the momentum, now we can start to get on the offense after we kill a penalty.

"Little things; making sure we have that third-man high support, not giving up too many odd-man rushes, boxing out in front of the net as defensemen, we're giving too many opportunities that way and we're just not sharp. So we've got to be sharper on those areas. We're doing a lot of good things. We're there, we just have to bear down so [Wednesday] we're going to have to be a lot sharper against a really good team. They're playing good hockey so we're going to have to make sure we do those little things."

Goalie Mike Condon will make his sixth straight start for the Canadiens, who have won a pair of 4-2 games against the Bruins already this season. The teams play again in the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on New Year's Day.

Boston is 9-2-2 on the road, though coach Claude Julien came up with a glass-half-empty approach to that record while noting he is hoping for a 10th road win.

"We see that as more of a situation where we began the season with three straight losses at home," Julien said. "We didn't have a good start, so I think our success at home will start to look like our success on the road soon. It's the start of the season that put a black cloud over our home record."

Boston center Patrice Bergeron isn't bothered if the Bruins' 6-1-2 surge hasn't garnered much attention.

"Honestly I think it's not a bad thing to be a bit in the shadows of other teams and accumulate wins," Bergeron said. "That's our goal. It's not something we pay a lot of attention to; we're more worried about performing well and improving as a team. I think we had a difficult start, but I think that also built some character and forced us to roll up our sleeves and find some solutions inside this room. That's what we've tried to do since then. We've had some ups and downs, but I feel we're improving from week to week."

Here are the projected lineups:


Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Brett Connolly

Matt Beleskey - David Krejci - Loui Eriksson

Frank Vatrano - Ryan Spooner - Jimmy Hayes

Zac Rinaldo - Landon Ferraro - Tyler Randell

Zdeno Chara - Zach Trotman

Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid

Joe Morrow - Kevan Miller

Tuukka Rask

Jonas Gustavsson

Injured: Chris Kelly (leg), David Pastrnak (foot), Dennis Seidenberg (undisclosed), Colin Miller (undisclosed)

Scratched: Max Talbot


Max Pacioretty - Alex Galchenyuk - Sven Andrighetto

Lars Eller - Tomas Plekanec - Paul Byron

Tomas Fleischmann - David Desharnais - Dale Weise

Daniel Carr - Brian Flynn - Christian Thomas

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin - Jeff Petry

Nathan Beaulieu - Tom Gilbert

Mike Condon

Dustin Tokarski

Injured: Carey Price (lower body), Brendan Gallagher (hand), Torrey Mitchell (lower body), Devante Smith-Pelly (lower body)

Scratched: Greg Pateryn, Jarred Tinordi, Charles Hudon

Status report: Hayes returns after being a healthy scratch the past two games. ... Hudon practiced after he was recalled from St. John's of the American Hockey League for the first time Tuesday.

Who's hot: Bergeron has five points in his past five games (one goal, four assists). … Beleskey has a goal and two assists in his past three games. .. Galchenyuk has nine points (five goals, four assists) in his past eight games, including assists in two straight. … Flynn has a goal and an assist in his past two games. … Petry has assists in consecutive games.

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