Canadiens, Kings meet for only time this season
CANADIENS (30-29-6) at KINGS (38-21-4)
Montreal 5-4-1; Los Angeles 7-2-1
This is the only meeting of the 2009-10 season between these teams. In their last matchup, Montreal rallied for a pair of goals in the final 1:53 to pull out a 4-3 victory at the Bell Centre on Jan. 31, 2009. Defenseman Andrei Markov netted the power-play game-winner with 22.3 seconds remaining.
The goaltending controversy in Montreal will continue at least into the offseason as the trade deadline passed without either Jaroslav Halak or Carey Price being moved. The two young goalies have taken turns seizing and relinquishing the No. 1 job over the past few seasons. Halak was the man heading into the Olympic break, but Price has started the first two games since the season resumed this week.
This is the third stop on a four-game road trip for Montreal, which won in Boston on Tuesday and was 20 minutes away from doing the same in San Jose on Thursday. But the Canadiens lost the lead and a player in the third period of the game, as the Sharks rallied for a pair of goals and Maxim Lapierre delivered a hit on Scott Nichol that ended up costing him a four-game suspension.
"It was pretty frustrating," said Scott Gomez, who had a goal and an assist in the 3-2 loss. "We had a chance to take two points. Carey held us in there and they just got one by there at the end. We know we can play with anyone. That's a great team over there."
Gearing up for their first postseason appearance in eight years, Los Angeles added veteran forwards Fredrik Modin and Jeff Halpern at the trade deadline. Each made his Kings debut in a 4-2 loss to the Predators on Thursday. Alexander Frolov got the visitors off to a fast start, scoring just 54 seconds into the first period, but the team was unable to build off a 5-1 win in Dallas coming out of the break.
"Our intensity and our compete level has to be a lot higher that that," forward Anze Kopitar
said. "We didn't show up. That's the bottom line. We got the first goal and instead of building on that, we sat back and they kept coming. That was the game."
Brian Gionta also had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens against the Sharks, as his line with Gomez did all the offensive damage. … Kopitar had an assist for the Kings against the Predators, giving him a five-game points streak. He has points in 19 of his last 22 games, with 13 goals and 14 assists over that span.
Montreal defenseman Paul Mara is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Forward Mike Cammalleri (right MCL) and defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron (knee) are on injured reserve. … Los Angeles forwards Justin Williams
(leg/ankle) and Andrei Lokitonov (shoulder) are on injured reserve.
Tomas Plekanec has a career-high 43 assists and a team-leading 60 points for the Canadiens. … Ryan Smyth
picked up his 700th NHL point when he assisted on Drew Doughty
's power-play goal in the Kings' loss to the Predators.
Quote of the year candidate from Price, who benefitted several times Thursday from San Jose shots striking iron: "My posts were working for me tonight. I'd buy them dinner if they'd eat."