Al Montoya will be in goal for the Canadiens Saturday night when they play the St. Louis Blues at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., CITY, TVA Sports, TSN Radio 690). Carey Price will get the start Sunday in Boston against the Bruins (7:30 p.m., SN, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
Captain Max Pacioretty, who had two goals and two assists in Thursday’s 5-4 overtime win over the Coyotes in Arizona, missed Saturday’s morning skate in Brossard because of the flu and will be a game-time decision Saturday night.
If Pacioretty is OK to play, the change in goal will be coach Michel Therrien’s only lineup change from Thursday’s game. That would mean forwards Brian Flynn and David Desharnais will be healthy scratches, along with defenceman Nikita Nesterov.
Therrien said Pacioretty showed up in Brossard Saturday morning but wasn’t feeling well and was sent home. The coach added that the flu bug has hit the entire Pacioretty family. Pacioretty has scored 22 goals in his last 32 games and has 27-21-48 totals for the season. Heading into Saturday’s games, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (30) and Los Angeles’s Jeff Carter (29) were the only two players in the NHL with more goals than Pacioretty.
Montoya has a 4-0-1 record in his last five starts and is coming off a 1-0 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers last Sunday. He has a 7-4-3 record this season with a 2.52 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage. Price has a 3-6-1 record in his last 10 games and is 24-13-5 for the season with a 2.42 GAA and .918 save percentage.
You can watch Therrien’s entire Saturday morning news conference from Brossard on the HI/O Facebook page.
Gallagher almost ready to return
Brendan Gallagher, who has been sidelined since Jan. 4 with a broken left hand, took part in Saturday’s morning skate wearing a regular, contact practice jersey for the first time since being hit by a Shea Weber slapshot in Dallas.
Gallagher, who has missed 17 games with the injury, won’t be in the lineup Saturday night but Therrien said he’s very close to returning. The coach didn’t rule out Gallagher playing Sunday in Boston.
Gallagher is the only Canadiens player still on the injured list. The team has had 18 players injured this season and has lost 175 total man-games to injury. Tomas Plekanec has the longest iron-man streak on the Canadiens, playing in 226 consecutive games dating back to March 29, 2014.
Galchenyuk adjusting to new linemates
Alex Galchenyuk ended a five-game goal-less drought when he scored the overtime goal in Arizona, giving him 12-17-29 totals in 35 games.
“I knew if I keep working hard sooner or later it will go in, and it did,” Galchenyuk said after Saturday’s morning skate. “So I’m happy with that, but I have to keep going.”
Galchenyuk, who has missed 21 games with two injuries to his right knee, said he’s still adjusting to new linemates Artturi Lehkonen and Paul Byron, while Phillip Danault has kept the No. 1 centre spot between Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov.
“They’re two fast wingers. It takes time for us to get used to each other and work on chemistry,” Galchenyuk said. “It’s such an important thing in hockey. We got to go out there and use our speed to our advantage. Speed and making plays at high speed is so huge in this hockey right now.”
Galchenyuk not concerned about Price
Don’t count Galchenyuk among those concerned by Price’s recent struggles in goal.
“He’s the best player in the league, man,” Galchenyuk said about the goalie. “I can’t say anything else.
“I don’t know what people are saying or talking … we all know he’s the best goalie in the league by far, so don’t worry about anything.”
McCarron, Carr impress on fourth line
Therrien said he was impressed by the performance of Mike McCarron and Daniel Carr on the fourth line — along with veteran Torrey Mitchell — during Thursday’s OT win in Arizona after they were both called up from the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps. McCarron and Carr both picked up assists in the game.
The arrival of McCarron and Carr put Desharnais and Flynn in the press box as healthy scratches and McCarron and Carr will play again Saturday night against the Blues.
“First of all, (McCarron) was playing really well (in St. John’s),” Therrien said after Saturday’s morning skate. “Him and Danny Carr played really well. In the meantime, they deserved to get called up and we wanted to change a little bit the chemistry with our fourth line and they did a really good job last game.
“Danny’s always having a great attitude and his work ethic is always 100 per cent,” the coach added. “He went through a tough time. Every time you’re in the NHL you’re getting an opportunity. You can’t forget this is a young player. We always like his attitude, the way that he comes to compete. The last game they were one of our best lines. Talking about offensive-zone time they did a really good job, protecting the puck and establishing good forechecking. They did a really good job the last game.”
Habs have upper hand on Blues
The Canadiens and Blues have met 129 times before in NHL regular-season play with the Canadiens leading the series 74-28-22-5, including a 43-12-7-3 record at home.
The Blues beat the Canadiens 3-2 in overtime in their first meeting this season in St. Louis on Dec. 6. Canadiens defenceman Greg Pateryn broke his ankle and Desharnais injured his knee in that game.
The Blues are coming off a 2-1 overtime win in Toronto and are on a three-game winning streak, outscoring the opposition 10-1 during that span. Goalie Jake Allen has won three of his last four games, allowing only five goals during that span.
Vladimir Tarasenko leads the Blues in scoring with 26-27-53 totals, followed by Kevin Shattenkirk (11-27-38) and Alexander Steen (11-26-37)
Odds & Ends
Tomas Plekanec will play his 900th career regular-season game with the Canadiens Saturday night. …
Price’s next win will be the 490th of his NHL career, tying him with Ken Dryden for third place on the Canadiens’ regular-season list.
This Date in Habs History
Feb. 11, 1971: Jean Béliveau scored three goals, including the 500th of his NHL career, and added an assist in a 6-2 win over the Minnesota North Stars at the Forum.
After Sunday’s game in Boston, the Canadiens will enjoy a five-day bye week in the schedule. They will practise next Friday in Brossard and return to action the next day when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Bell Centre for a Saturday matinee game (2 p.m., CBC, SN, TVA Sports, TSN Radio 690).