Blue Jackets-Canadiens Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 05, 2011
The Montreal Canadiens have yet to lose in regulation this season when leading after two periods. The Columbus Blue Jackets have also fared well in those situations, but that wasn't the case their last time out. Montreal begins a stretch of five of six at home Tuesday night when the Blue Jackets try to close out their trip with a .500 record. With Carey Price stopping all six shots he faced in the third period, the Canadiens won 2-1 over Los Angeles on Saturday to improve to 9-0-2 when leading at the second intermission. "Coach (Jacques Martin) came in and said, 'Hey, listen, you guys have control of the game," defenseman P.K. Subban said. "... We limited their shots and their quality opportunities - and even when they did have them, we regained our focus and got into the shooting lanes and blocked a lot of shots.'' That doesn't bode well for the Blue Jackets (7-16-3), whose shot percentage (7.8) in the third period is among the worst in the NHL. The club led 2-1 after two periods on Friday, but it scored just once off eight third-period shots in a 6-3 loss to Edmonton. Columbus fell to 1-2-0 on its trip after going 1 for 5 on the power play. "We've got to bury more than one of those," coach Scott Arniel said. "... It's an old broken record that we've been trying to work on." The Blue Jackets are 5-2-0 when leading at the second intermission, but they've been outscored 32-21 in the third period. Improved play from Curtis Sanford could put less pressure on the Blue Jackets' slumping offense. Of the 13 goals he's surrendered in the last four contests, eight have come after the second period. If Sanford makes his 10th consecutive start, it will be the first time he faces Montreal since March 10, 2007, while with St. Louis. The Canadiens scored just six goals on their just-completed 1-1-1 trip, but the return of Max Pacioretty could provide a nice lift. He finished serving a three-game suspension for breaking Kris Letang's nose with a shoulder hit in a 4-3 overtime loss to Pittsburgh on Nov. 26. "The guys have played pretty good in the last couple games," Pacioretty, who has a team-high 10 goals, told the Canadiens' official website. "Hopefully I can step in and help them." Pacioretty, though, has just three power-play assists this season as Montreal is ranked among the league's worst with the man advantage at 12.1 percent. The Canadiens have converted just 1 of 29 on the power play over the last seven games - Tomas Plekanec's first-period goal Saturday. However, the Canadiens have killed 49 of 51 penalties in Price's last 14 starts. Price is 1-2-0 with a 3.00 goals-against average against the Blue Jackets after stopping 21 shots in a 3-0 loss at Columbus on Nov. 2, 2010. Price made 33 saves, and Pacioretty and Plekanec each had two assists the last time the Blue Jackets came to town - a 5-3 Montreal victory on Nov. 29, 2009. Columbus has been outscored 53-28 while losing 11 of 13 on the road. "It's a big game for us coming up," forward Derek Dorsett said Friday after scoring twice for the first time. ".. Tonight it feels like we let a few slide, so we've got to get back to the drawing board over the next couple days and get two points in Montreal."
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