|4:30 PM PT5:30 PM MT6:30 PM CT7:30 PM ET0:30 GMT8:30 5:30 PM MST7:30 PM EST4:30 UAE (+1)19:30 ETNaN:� BRT, December 14, 2017
Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec Attendance: 21,302
Habs hope to exorcise Devils in last home game of year
New Jersey Devils at Montreal Canadiens
- The Devils beat the Kings, 5-1, on Tuesday night at Prudential Center, snapping a two-game losing streak, and improving to 17-9-4 (.633) on the season -- their best start through 30 games since beginning the 2009-10 campaign with a mark of 21-8-1.
- Montreal lost, 6-2, to Edmonton at Bell Centre on Saturday night, dropping its third straight game since a season-best five-game win streak, November 25-December 2. The Canadiens have allowed six goals (or more) five times in 2017-18 -- tied with Vegas for second most in the NHL (Detroit -- 6).
- Tonight marks the first of three meetings between the Devils and Habs in 2017-18. Including a three-game sweep in last year's series, Montreal is 7-0-2 in its last nine matches with New Jersey overall (since beginning of 2014-15).
- Taylor Hall lit the lamp twice Tuesday night, recording his second multi-goal performance of the year, and giving him a team-best 31 points in 2017-18. Hall has eight points (3g, 5a) in his last eight skates against the Canadiens.
- Alex Galchenyuk had one of Montreal's markers last Saturday night, giving him nine points (3g, 6a) in his last eight games (had just eight points in first 23 games of the year). Galchenyuk has five goals (two assists) in his last five skates against the Devils.
- Including last Saturday night, opponents have scored two or more power-play goals seven times against the Habs in 2017-18 -- second most in the league (Pittsburgh -- 8). New Jersey has scored just two PPG total in its last seven contests.
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MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens only have five games left before the Christmas break, and Thursday night's contest against the New Jersey Devils is their last home game before the New Year.
After losing their last three, the Habs (13-14-4) will be looking to close out 2017 at the Bell Centre with a victory.
"We've got one home game left before we head on the road for this Christmas break, so it's a pretty important five games for us," Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher told the team website. "We're going to try to take things game-by-game, but really understand that we can't have any bad nights. We've got to be accountable to our teammates, and try to string something together here."
The Devils (17-9-4) will be playing their first of a pair of back-to-back games, hosting the Dallas Stars in New Jersey the following night. New Jersey is coming off a big 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, snapping L.A.'s eight-game winning streak in the process. The Devils sit third in the Metropolitan Division.
Corey Schneider, who is expected to get the start in goal for the Devils, has started all but five games since the beginning of November, going 7-5-3 during that span, with a 2.35 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.
The Canadiens haven't played since Saturday night, when they lost 6-2 to the Edmonton Oilers in Montreal, and saw their all-star netminder Carey Price get the hook after giving up four goals on 14 shots.
"We want to win hockey games, we're never satisfied when we lose," Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty told reporters after the game.
The Devils will be without forward Taylor Hall, who suffered a right knee contusion in Tuesday's win over the Kings.
"The real positive news is that there is no structural damage," Devils coach John Hynes told NHL.com. "Bad news he won't play at Montreal, but it's just a contusion and it will take a little while for him to get ready and that's why we have him day to day."
One thing that has been working for New Jersey lately is their special teams. The Devils power play is sitting ninth in the league right now, as does their penalty kill.
Special teams is an area the Habs have struggled, with their penalty kill operating at a disappointing 77.7 percent clip, and capitalizing on 17.8 percent of their power-play opportunities.
If there's one thing that Montreal will have to capitalize on if they want to notch another one in the win column, it's New Jersey's weaknesses. One area that the Devils have struggled is on faceoffs. The Devils have the fourth-worst percentage in the league.
After Thursday's game, the Canadiens will hit the road for seven contests, including their annual holiday stint in the Sunshine State against Tampa Bay and Florida. The Devils will kick off a six-game homestand on Friday against Dallas.
Updated December 14, 2017