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Preview: Canadiens at Blue Jackets

Backup goalie Al Montoya to start for Montreal, Sergei Bobrovsky in goal again for Columbus

by Craig Merz / NHL.com Correspondent

CANADIENS (9-0-1) at BLUE JACKETS (4-3-1)

7 p.m. ET; FS-O, SNE, RDS, NHL.TV

 

Canadiens team scope

With back-to-back games Friday and Saturday, backup Al Montoya will start for the Montreal Canadiens in Columbus, with Carey Price likely to play at home against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. Montoya is 3-0-1 with a 1.47 goals against average and .955 save percentage after signing with the Canadiens as a free agent contract on July 1. Montoya's teammates have plenty of confidence in him. "Obviously Carey's the best goalie in the world," forward Brian Flynn said. "We all know that. Al's been great since he got here, great in the locker room. I think he got all the guys behind him right away. A good start helped too." Forward Andrew Shaw did not practice Thursday but coach Michel Therrien said he'll play. Although the Canadiens defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 on Wednesday for their eighth straight win and are the only team not to lose in regulation, they were dominated for much of the night and needed Price's 42-save performance for the victory. "We have to move on," Therrien said. "We can't be perfect for 82 games. I've been in the business long enough to understand that, but I liked the reaction from the players. They didn't need me. They knew how we wanted to play. They were not satisfied but we found a way to win. That's good leadership because the guys know we need to be better and we will." The Canadiens' 19 points are the most in franchise history through 10 games. They had 18 points last season (9-1-0) and in 1943-44 (8-0-2).

 

Blue Jackets team scope

The Columbus Blue Jackets are 4-1-1 after losing their first two games, but they've been winning despite getting little offensive contribution from three key players. Coach John Tortorella has reunited center Brandon Dubinsky with Boone Jenner and Cam Atkinson in hopes of finding the chemistry they exhibited for much of last season. He had them on a line together in the late stages of a 3-2 overtime win against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. "That's a forechecking line," Tortorella said. "For most of the minutes they've played together they haven't had the puck enough and that's their identity." Dubinsky has one assist; he had 17 goals and 31 assists for 48 points last season. Jenner is goalless with one assist after getting 49 points (30 goals) in 2015-16. Atkinson has five points (two goals, three assists) after a season in which he had NHL career highs in goals (27), assists (26) and points (53). "We're obviously familiar with each other so when one of us is down, we need to pick each other up," Atkinson said. "We're all capable of scoring goals." He's confident Dubinsky and Jenner will break out of their slumps. "It's not like they're not getting scoring chances," Atkinson said. "If that was the case I'd be a little worried." Said Jenner, "We're excited to get back together. We want to raise our level and be that effective line that we want to." Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who has played every minute of the Blue Jackets' first eight games, is expected to start.

 

Canadiens projected lines
 

Alexander Radulov -- Alex Galchenyuk -- Brendan Gallagher

Max Pacioretty -- David Desharnais -- Andrew Shaw

Artturi Lehkonen -- Tomas Plekanec -- Paul Byron

Phillip Danault -- Torrey Mitchell -- Brian Flynn

Alexei Emelin -- Shea Weber

Andrei Markov -- Jeff Petry

Nathan Beaulieu -- Greg Pateryn

Al Montoya

Carey Price

Scratched: Joel Hanley, Daniel Carr

Injured : Zach Redmond (broken foot )

 

Blue Jackets projected lines

Brandon Saad -- Alexander Wennberg -- Nick Foligno

Boone Jenner -- Brandon Dubinsky -- Cam Atkinson

Scott Hartnell -- Lukas Sedlak -- Sam Gagner

Matt Calvert -- William Karlsson -- Josh Anderson

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Ryan Murray -- Jack Johnson

Markus Nutivaara -- David Savard

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Dalton Prout, Scott Harrington, Sonny Milano

Injured : David Clarkson (back)

 

Status report

Milano was recalled Friday from Cleveland of the American Hockey League for the second time this
season but has yet to play for Columbus. … Hanley and Carr were recalled from St. John's of the AHL on Wednesday.

 

Who's hot

Galchenyuk has five points in Montreal's past three games. Fourth-line center Torrey Mitchell scored his fifth goal of the season in the win against Vancouver. He had 11 goals in 71 games last season. … Bobrovsky is 4-1-1 in the past six games with a 1.50 GAA and a .954 save percentage. … Columbus leads the NHL in power-play percentage (35.0) but has earned a League-low 20 opportunities in eight games.

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