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Canadiens pay rare visit to the desert

by Adam Kimelman /

CANADIENS (8-10-0) at COYOTES (10-7-0)

Last 10 -- Canadiens 5-5-0; Coyotes 5-5-0

Season series -- This is the teams' only meeting this season. They met once last season, a 4-1 Canadiens victory at the Bell Centre, and this will be just the fourth time the teams have played since the 2005-06 season.

Big story -- The Canadiens have lost three straight at home, making this the perfect time for them to get on the road. They couldn't even manage a goal against Calgary on Tuesday night, losing 1-0 at home.

The Coyotes have gotten excellent goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov but have struggled to score. They have scored more than three goals just three times in 17 games and haven't exceeded four goals in a game since a 6-3 win over Los Angeles on opening night.

Team Scope:

Canadiens -- Who's in goal for Montreal? Jaroslav Halak started Tuesday against Calgary, but Carey Price (3-7-0, 3.30 goals-against average, .894 save percentage) had started the three games before that. Neither netminder is setting the world on fire, but Halak (5-3-0, 2.62 GAA, .904 save percentage), who made 30 saves in the hard-luck 1-0 loss to the Flames, has put up the better numbers.

Coyotes -- Phoenix is getting to see just what it has in its young defense prospects. Injuries to Zbynek Michalek and Ed Jovanovski meant ice time David Schlemko and Shaun Heshka. "It was a solid first game," coach Dave Tippett told the ArizonaRepublic regarding Heshka's debut, Saturday against Anaheim. "He was thrown into a tough situation. We had three young players in there (including Keith Yandle), but I thought he did well, got his feet under him, now he'll know what to expect the next one."

Who's hot -- Phoenix forward Matthew Lombardi doesn't have a goal in nine games, but he's still producing -- he has 5 assists in his last four games. Bryzgalov ranks in the top five in the League in goals-against average (1.98), save percentage (.925), and shutouts (three). In 33 games against the Coyotes, Canadiens forward Michael Cammalleri has 27 points, tied for the most he's scored against any team in the League.

Injury report -- The Coyotes are missing their top two defensemen -- Michalek is week-to-week with a lower-body injury, while Jovanovski is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. The Canadiens will be without one of their top blueliners, Hal Gill, who is on IR with a foot injury.

Stat pack -- Canadiens checking-line forward Travis Moen has 33 goals in 380 NHL games, but has 4 goals in 30 games against the Coyotes. Lombardi has 3 goals and 6 points in six career games against the Canadiens.

Puck drop -- The Canadiens need to stay out of the penalty box if they're going to have any success. Montreal is ranked 28th in the League in killing penalties on the road (69.7 percent), while Phoenix is eighth on the power play at home (22.6 percent).

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