With their longest road trip of the season just getting started, the Montreal Canadiens have to be hoping their longest road losing streak in three years is nearing an end.
The reeling Canadiens will try to snap their six-game road slide on Wednesday when they face the Edmonton Oilers, who are also struggling as they scramble for points in a wild Western Conference race.
Montreal looked like one of the league's best teams when it went 11-2-1 from Dec. 18-Jan. 17, but the Canadiens (29-19-6) have since crumbled, going 2-8-0.
That includes their first six-game road losing streak since a seven-game skid midway through the 2005-06 season. They didn't show any signs of improvement in a 6-2 loss at Calgary on Monday, opening a six-game road trip by getting outshot 41-24 and allowing five unanswered goals in the second and third periods.
"Right now we're not playing with confidence," coach Guy Carbonneau said. "It seems that every time we make a mistake it's in our net. Making plays and making passes is really hard because of the confidence that we don't have."
Carbonneau is hoping a lengthy players-only meeting after Monday's game will help his team turn it around following three straight losses.
The Canadiens have scored two or fewer goals seven times in their last 10 games, and have been outscored 28-12 during their road slide.
Montreal also has had trouble defensively, and All-Star goalie Carey Price has a 3.64 goals-against average in his last eight starts. In his first start in nearly three weeks, backup Jaroslav Halak gave up all six goals against the Flames.
"The first thing is to really try and forget the last two weeks," Montreal captain Saku Koivu said. "We can't feel sorry for ourselves and we know the situation that we're in. We're the only ones that are going to dig ourselves out of that hole."
The Canadiens have dropped to fifth place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the sixth-place New York Rangers and two ahead of seventh-place Buffalo.
Edmonton is just three points out of fifth place in the West, but is also three points away from 13th in the conference's tightly packed postseason chase. The Oilers (26-23-4) have dropped four of five, however, coming off a 3-2 shootout defeat at Minnesota on Sunday following an ugly 8-3 loss at Detroit on Saturday.
"In the Western Conference now, every team is in it," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. "We're competitive and we battle hard. We've just been short against the best teams in the league."
If they want to reach the postseason for the first time since 2006, the Oilers likely need to fire up what has been a stagnant offense this month. In five February games, they've scored just eight goals, with three of those coming after they already trailed the Red Wings by six in the third period.
It likely won't help playing without defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who ranks fourth on the team with 31 points. Visnovsky is slated for season-ending shoulder surgery after an injury last week.
Edmonton is also missing forward Shawn Horcoff due to a lower-body injury. Horcoff has 33 points.
This will be the first game against his former team for Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray, who spent five full seasons in Montreal and scored 64 points in 2006-07 before leaving as a free agent. Souray has 34 points in 52 games after missing much of last season to injury.