Despite a rough start and some candid words from a high-ranking club executive, the Vancouver Canucks are playing better hockey of late.
Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens need to start winning home games again.
Looking for a third straight road victory, the Canucks try to hand the Canadiens a fourth consecutive home defeat on Wednesday night.
Vancouver endured an exceedingly frustrating 0-5-2 start but is 4-1-1 since that skid. After the Canucks blew a 3-0 lead during a 4-3 home shootout loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday, president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford criticized the club’s overall system and player accountability, though coach Bruce Boudreau defended his team’s effort.
Then the Canucks went out and scored four times in the third period on Tuesday to emerge with a 6-4 road victory over the Ottawa Senators.
“We’re just trying to be mentally tough,” Canucks captain Bo Horvat, who scored twice, said postgame. “It’s been a mental grind for a lot of this year and a lot of mental lapses by us. I thought we stayed mentally strong tonight.”
The Canucks still have their issues, as they are allowing four goals per game. However, Vancouver has won back-to-back road contests following an 0-3-2 start away from home, and it has recorded at least one point in four consecutive road games.
Horvat has scored eight of his team-leading 12 on the season over the past five games.
Spencer Martin made 37 saves for the Canucks on Tuesday, but regular starter Thatcher Demko could be back in goal for Wednesday’s contest. Demko has just one victory and a 3.90 goal-against average in nine starts this season. However, he owns a 1.98 GAA during a personal three-game winning streak vs. Montreal.
Vancouver is 3-0-1 in its past four meetings with the Canadiens, who snapped an overall 0-2-1 slide with a 3-2 shootout victory over the host Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.
“I’m proud of the group, the way they fought,” Montreal coach Martin St. Louis said. “(Tuesday) was a big character win. “It wasn’t perfect, but we found a way. For me, that’s what it’s all about.”
The Canadiens, though, have been outscored 14-7 during a three-game home losing streak that came after they yielded seven goals while opening with three victories in their first three home contests.
Montreal’s Mike Hoffman scored twice during regulation on Tuesday before Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki converted during the shootout. Caufield and Suzuki have a combined 29 points this season, but only the former registered a point during the Canadiens’ two meetings with Vancouver last season, notching an assist.
After Jake Allen stopped a season-high 41 shots for the Canadiens at Detroit, Sam Montembeault (2-1-1, 2.47 GAA) could start in the second of the team’s back-to-back games. Montembeault has allowed nine goals while losing both of his previous starts vs. Vancouver.
Horvat logged two goals and three assists in his past three games against the Canadiens. Fellow Canucks star J.T. Miller, challenged by Boudreau to produce, has registered five goals and five assists during a seven-game point streak after totaling three points in his first six contests.
Miller has two goals and six assists in his past five contests vs. Montreal.
–Field Level Media