The Montreal Canadiens will try to solve their defensive woes against some tough opposition when they host the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
Mired in a six-game winless streak (0-4-2), the Canadiens have allowed 20 goals over their last three games, all regulation losses. It marked the first time Montreal has allowed six or more goals over three consecutive games since October 1985.
After the Habs had several defensive breakdowns in Thursday's 6-4 loss to the New Jersey Devils, Brendan Gallagher acknowledged the frustration over the club's inability to prevent "mistakes."
"We're hurting ourselves, we're leaving guys out to dry in situations where they shouldn't be in. ... Like we said after last game, we have one option: continue to work," Gallagher told reporters. "We talk about it, but you can only say the right thing so many times. At some point you've got to go out and do it."
There doesn't seem to be an easy answer for the Habs' struggles, as the team-wide defensive issues have coincided with an uncharacteristic cold spell from Carey Price. Despite the lack of help from his blue-liners, Price has only an .822 save percentage over his last five games.
Price might not factor into the action on Saturday; with the Canadiens playing the Boston Bruins on Sunday, Price and Keith Kincaid will split starting duties over the back-to-back games. Kincaid has struggled to a 4.29 goals against average and .877 save percentage this season, though he has only appeared in five games due to Price's heavy workload.
While the Canadiens are slumping, the Flyers have more points (22) than any other team in the month of November. Philadelphia is 9-2-4 this month, including a 4-0-1 record over its last five games.
That streak includes a 6-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday that saw the Flyers hit the six-goal plateau for the third time this season. Jakub Voracek led the Flyers with three assists, while Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton, and Matt Niskanen also enjoyed multi-point games.
It was the type of all-around effort that coach Alain Vigneault wanted to see during a busy stretch of the schedule. Since Philadelphia is playing in afternoon games on consecutive days, they're essentially playing "four games in five-and-a-half days," as Vigneault put it.
"You've got to be able to play four lines, you've got to be able to play six defensemen and you've got to be able to play both your goaltenders," Vigneault told reporters after Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
That goalie rotation will be on display when Brian Elliott starts against Montreal, following Carter Hart's 32-save performance against Detroit. While Hart remains the Flyers' first choice in net, Elliott has had a strong season with a 6-2-2 record, 2.68 GAA and .915 save percentage over 13 games.
Saturday's game is the second meeting of the season between the Flyers and Canadiens. Couturier's overtime goal gave Philadelphia a 3-2 victory over the Habs in Montreal on Nov. 7.
Montreal is 2-3-3 in its last eight games against Philadelphia.
The Flyers are 1-2-2 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.
--Field Level Media
Habs look to solve defensive woes vs. Flyers