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Habs' trip continues at Chicago

by Brian Compton
CANADIENS (13-14-7) at BLACKHAWKS (21-9-4)


Last 10: Montreal 3-4-3; Chicago 7-2-1.

Season Series: This is the lone meeting between the "Original Six" clubs this season. They last faced each other on April 5, when P.K. Subban's power-play goal in overtime lifted the Canadiens to a 2-1 victory at the Bell Centre.

Big Story: Randy Cunneyworth finally had the opportunity Tuesday to run his first full practice as Montreal's interim coach and tried to prepare his team for what will be a huge challenge Wednesday night. Despite Tuesday night's 3-2 loss at Pittsburgh, the Blackhawks still sit atop the NHL standings with 46 points.

"He wants us to be a team that's really hard to play against," Habs forward Mathieu Darche said of Cunneyworth, who replaced Jacques Martin last Saturday. "Right now we've been that sometimes, but not all the time. He doesn't want us to be in-between anymore, but an aggressive team that others find exhausting to play against because we maintain a high-tempo and are always forechecking.

"We know that taking steps isn't enough at this point and that we need to win, but we know we're not far away. Everyone arrived to the rink this morning with a lot of enthusiasm and ready to go."

Team Scope:

Canadiens: Montreal has yet to win since making the coaching change, as Cunneyworth fell to 0-2 with Monday night's 3-2 loss at Boston. Carey Price made 28 saves and Tomas Plekanec scored for the Canadiens, who have lost nine of their last 12 games. They dropped a 5-3 decision to New Jersey on Saturday in Cunneyworth's debut.

"It's important that we make fewer mistakes," Cunneyworth said after Monday's loss to the Bruins. "The few mistakes we did make were costly and you can't make them against a team like Boston."

Blackhawks: Chicago had its five-game winning streak snapped Tuesday night, as the Hawks attempted to rally from a 3-0 deficit but came up a goal short. Jonathan Toews and Viktor Stalberg scored for Chicago before seven minutes had passed in the third period. But the Blackhawks just couldn't find the equalizer and failed to leave the Steel City with any points.

"We basically handed them two points," Stalberg said. "We have to play like we did in the third for a full game. It's as simple as that."

Who's Hot: Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty has a goal and 4 assists over his last five contests. … Toews has points in three of his last five games. His goal Tuesday night was his team-leading 19th of the season. He has 23 points on the road, the most in the NHL.

Injury Report: Montreal is expected to be without Scott Gomez (groin), Ryan White (groin), Brian Gionta (lower body) and Andrei Markov (knee).

Stat Pack: Monday night marked the first time in five games that the Canadiens failed to score a power-play goal. They went 0-for-2 with the man advantage against the Bruins. … Chicago hasn't won in regulation at Pittsburgh since Feb. 22, 1997, a span of nine games.

Puck Drop: "We obviously want to establish a high-tempo game where we're on the attack, skating, and using our assets. If we can do that with four lines, it keeps us fresh. If we're only rolling three lines, we get tired and it's hard to keep that pace up. We're a better team when we have all four lines going." -- Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges
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