The Montreal Canadiens won’t play a home game anytime soon.
The team embarked on a two-week trip on Monday night and won’t play at home until Jan. 5.
The Canadiens’ seven-game trek, which crisscrosses the United States, started in Arizona with a 3-2 overtime win over the Coyotes and will continue Wednesday night in Denver vs. the Colorado Avalanche.
Montreal’s win over the Coyotes featured the Canadiens’ debut of Anthony Richard, 25, who was recalled from Laval of the AHL, where he had a league-leading 18 goals and 31 points.
Richard played on the fourth line Monday and nearly doubled his career minutes in the NHL. He had played just single games with Nashville in 2018-19 and 2019-20 and logged a total of 11 minutes, 32 seconds, of ice time.
Monday he played 10:58 in his first NHL game in more than two years.
“You doubt if the opportunity is going to come,” he told the Montreal Gazette. “There’s no doubt in my mind that I was able to play in the NHL. It was more, ‘Are you going to get another chance or another contract?’ It’s always like the next contract, the next team that’s looking at you.
“When I became a free agent and Montreal called, I thought it was the best fit for me, and it seems to be the right one.”
Richard likely will be in the lineup for the first game of the season against the reigning Stanley Cup champs. It also will be the first time Colorado forward Artturi Lehkonen will face his former team since being dealt to the Avalanche at last year’s trade deadline.
Lehkonen helped the Canadiens reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 2021 by scoring the goal to clinch the Eastern Conference title. He did the same for Colorado in June when he scored in overtime against Edmonton to complete a series sweep and send the Avalanche to the finals.
Lehkonen played five-plus seasons with Montreal after being taken in the second round of the 2013 draft.
Lehkonen has a goal and two assists in five games since returning from a lower-body injury that cost him three games. He is one of many Colorado players who have been sidelined with injuries, but the team is slowly getting healthy.
Lehkonen, Evan Rodrigues, Val Nichushkin and Kurtis MacDermid have returned to the Avalanche lineup, and Nathan MacKinnon has started skating on his own but the star center expected to miss at least two more weeks with an upper-body injury.
Rodrigues has one goal and one assist since he returned from a nine-game absence and one big one that won’t show up on the stat sheet — his backhand that beat Ilya Sorokin in a shootout on Monday night. It was the only goal of any kind scored in Colorado’s 1-0 win over the New York Islanders.
“He’s obviously a crafty guy, and there’s lots of deception in this game,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said.
Bednar said forward Andrew Cogliano will miss at least two games with a shoulder injury suffered in the win, but the injury doesn’t appear to be serious.
–Field Level Media