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Canadiens look to avenge early loss to Kings
MONTREAL -- After the Canadiens posted their biggest offensive output of the season Tuesday night in a decisive 5-1 victory over the Florida Panthers, Montreal will look to keep the momentum heading into a Thursday night game against the Los Angeles Kings.
The Canadiens (2-6-1) snapped a seven-game losing streak, getting a couple of goals from defenseman Shea Weber, his first multi-goal game with the team.
"We got a little bit of momentum and we got rewarded on the power play," the former Nashville Predators defenseman said after the game Tuesday. "We've had some good opportunities in the last few games, we just haven't been getting the goals. I thought it paid off tonight."
Montreal captain Max Pacioretty and wingers Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk also contributed on the scoresheet, something that pleased coach Claude Julien.
"Once we scored, our team started showing more of what we've been looking for," Julien said. "And in the third, I thought we did a good job of working a full 60 minutes."
Montreal faces a tough test Thursday, a rematch against the Western Conference-leading Kings (7-1-1). Los Angeles routed the Canadiens 5-1 in California on Oct. 18.
The game saw Montreal get on the board first when center Paul Byron netted his second of the season, and after 40 minutes, the score was 1-1. Former Canadiens center Michael Cammalleri and left winger Adrian Kempe exploded in the third, each notching four points, with Kempe collecting his first career NHL hat trick.
For the Canadiens, there were noticeable improvements evident in several areas on Tuesday against the Panthers. After netting only three power-play goals all season, they scored twice on the man advantage against Florida, bringing up their rank from 28th to 26th. However, come Thursday night, the Canadiens will have to contend with the league's second-best penalty kill, as the Kings are currently operating at 91.2 percent when facing the extra attacker.
Montreal goalie Carey Price, who has been struggling this season, came up big with a 26-save effort against Florida, earning his first victory since opening night (a 3-2 shootout win at Buffalo). He allowed only an early second-period goal from the point by Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle.
Montreal has been very successful this season at getting pucks to the net, averaging a league-best 38.2 shots a game. Los Angeles isn't too far behind averaging 35.8 shots on goal a night.
The Kings took their first regulation loss of the season on Monday night, when they dropped a 3-2 contest against the Maple Leafs in Toronto.
Los Angeles rebounded the next night, beating the Senators 3-2 in Ottawa. Kempe tied the game with 1:46 left in the third period before scoring the eventual winner in the shootout.
"I'm just trying to play my game and play the way the team plays," Kempe said after the win. "I get more confidence after every game. That's good for me. ... Just try to skate as much as possible and create opportunities for my linemates and play the way the other guys want to."
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, who missed the majority of last season, has started seven of his team's nine games this season, and he appears poised for a comeback season. Quick was briefly taken off the ice by a concussion spotter during the Monday game against the Leafs after being accidentally knocked in the head by teammate Derek Forbort.
He returned to action a few minutes later.
Montreal still will be without right winger Ales Hemsky, who is out with concussion-like symptoms, while defenseman David Schlemko continues to recover from a broken hand.
Los Angeles will be without center Jeff Carter for the next six to eight weeks due to a lacerated tendon in his left ankle, an injury that he sustained against Montreal last week. The Kings will also be without left winger Kyle Clifford, who is sidelined for the next couple of weeks with an upper-body injury.
Updated October 26, 2017