Habs face tall order against Western powerhouse Avalanche

With only one win in eight games, the Montreal Canadiens will have a tall order in Denver on Saturday as the Colorado Avalanche are an NHL powerhouse in the west.

Since resuming play with a loss in Boston on Jan. 12, the Habs have won just once in five games, 5-3 in Dallas on Tuesday.

In contrast, the Avalanche are on a five-game winning streak. In 2022, Colorado lost only one of 11 games and that was in overtime in Nashville.

Cayden Primeau will be in net for the Tricolore after two games in which Samuel Montembeault faced 104 shots in total.

"I had a lot of work to do, but, on the other hand, it keeps you in the game," said Montembeault. "The important thing for me is to be consistent every game."

After beating the Stars, the Habs drew a point in Las Vegas, losing 4-3 in overtime.

"Samuel has shown a lot of progress since he joined us," said Habs head coach Dominique Ducharme. "He is working well with Eric (Raymond, the goaltending coach). He's getting more and more comfortable, and that's paying off for the team."

Montembeault, Jonathan Drouin, Josh Anderson, Jeff Petry and David Savard were absent from Friday's practice, as they received treatment.

The Avalanche just completed a trip to the Los Angeles area, winning 2-0 and 4-1 against the Anaheim Ducks and LA Kings.

Primeau is looking forward to getting back into the thick of things.

"It's going to be an exciting battle," he said. "You have reports about the other club but at the same time, you don't want to just shake things up in your head. You want to jump on the ice and play."

Primeau was on duty Monday in Arizona, where the Canadiens lost 5-2. He was scored on four times in 16 shots before heading to the bench to be replaced by Montembeault.

The Avalanche is the best team in the West (27-8-3).

"It's going to be a challenge. We're talking about a great team," said Ducharme, "and they're tough to beat at home."

Ducharme said he was encouraged by the way his team has performed over the past two games.

"There were little things in our game that were better," he said. "There was a high level of commitment, but there is still room for improvement. (To be successful), you have to have the desire to win and sacrifice."

Jour de match! It's game day!

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— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) January 22, 2022

TEAM OF STARS

At next month's All-Star Game, Colorado will be represented by Nazem Kadri, Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar and head coach Jared Bednar. Kadri will also participate in the skills competition.

Kadri is fifth in the league in scoring and leads the team with 49 points, including 35 assists.

MacKinnon has three goals and seven points in the last four games.

Mikko Rantanen, the team's second-leading scorer, has five goals in his last five games.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Jan. 22, 2022.

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