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Habs aim to avoid third-straight loss against Blues

by Brian Compton
BLUES (21-20-7) at CANADIENS (23-23-4)

Last 10: St. Louis 4-4-2; Montreal 4-5-1.

Season series -- This is the lone meeting between the teams. They last met on Nov. 16, 2008, when Alex Kovalev beat Manny Legace in the shootout to lift the Canadiens to a 3-2 victory at the Scottrade Center.

Big story -- St. Louis is getting accustomed to new coach Davis Payne, as it recently had a season-high, four-game winning streak. Payne replaced Andy Murray behind the bench on Jan. 2.

Team Scope:

Blues -- Payne's team saw its win streak come to an end on Monday night, when it started a three-game road trip with a 4-2 loss at Columbus. Paul Kariya scored 1:11 into the game, but Raffi Torres scored twice before the first period concluded and the Blues never really recovered.

"I didn't think we had much jump tonight," Payne said. "Even when we called upon it, it didn't seem like we were able to get our gears shifted for the third period. For whatever reason, Columbus did a great job with any forecheck that we were able to establish. We had very little net traffic and very few secondary possessions. We have to regroup tomorrow."

Canadiens -- Montreal enters Wednesday's action hoping to avoid a three-game losing streak. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead on Sunday, the Habs allowed six unanswered goals en route to a 6-2 loss against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

For the Canadiens, it was their eighth setback in their last nine games against teams that are currently in the top eight in the Eastern Conference.
"I guess the stats don't lie as far as that goes," forward Mike Cammalleri said. "I thought we came with emotion and work ethic, but I think that we could've channeled it better. I think we could've played a more effective, efficient road game, but we were unable to do that."

Who's hot -- The line of Benoit Pouliot, Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta has tallied 12 goals and 14 assists in the last nine games for the Canadiens. Pouliot has four goals in his last four contests.

Injury report -- Blues forward D.J. King (hand) is in the midst of a two-week conditioning stint in the American Hockey League. … Montreal forward Andrei Kostitsyn (lower body) is out indefinitely, while his brother, Sergei Kostitsyn (lower body), is day-to-day.

Stat pack -- St. Louis is again suffering from a lack of scoring. If no player tallies 30 goals this season, it would mark the third time in the last five seasons the Blues would fail to have a 30-goal scorer. Andy McDonald leads the team with 14.

Puck drop -- "We had turnovers and a lot of bad play selection. I think it's a matter of us playing the type of hockey we are capable of. If we play like we did in the first period for all three periods, we'd be alright." -- Montreal coach Jacques Martin after Sunday's loss to the Rangers
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