The league’s worst Canadians take on the Western powerhouse Colorado Avalanche

MONTREAL – With just one win in eight games, the Montreal Canadiens will have their work cut out for them in Denver on Saturday as the Colorado Avalanche are an NHL powerhouse out West.

Since returning to play with a loss at Boston on Jan. 12, the Canadiens have won only once in five games, 5-3 at Dallas on Tuesday.

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

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

“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 in every game.”

After beating the Stars, the Habs tied the game in Las Vegas, losing 4-3 in overtime.

“Samuel has shown a lot of progress since joining us,” said Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme. “He works well with Éric (Raymond, the goalkeeper coach). He is more and more comfortable and it is paying off for the team.

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

The Avalanche are coming off a trip to the Los Angeles area, winning 2-0, 4-1 over the Anaheim Ducks and LA Kings.

Primeau is eager to get back to the heart of the matter.

“It will 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 four times on 16 shots before heading to the bench to be replaced by Montembeault.

The Avalanche are 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 his team’s performance 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 to sacrifice yourself.”

ALL-STAR TEAM

In 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 points 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 top scorer, has scored five goals in his last five games.

— This report from The Canadian Press was first published in French on January 22, 2022.

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