The Montreal Canadiens will try to turn around their season when they open an eight-game homestand against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night.
The Canadiens are halfway through the regular season and own the fewest points in the NHL (23).
Montreal has won just three of 25 games on the road this season but has been slightly better at home, winning five of 16.
It's been a dramatic drop from last season, when the Canadiens made a surprising run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
They've shown some recent signs of life, however.
Montreal earned points in three straight games last week, accomplishing the feat for just the second time this season.
The Canadiens beat the Dallas Stars 5-3 on Jan. 18, then lost back-to-back overtime games to the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche, two of the top teams in the West.
Montreal reverted to previous form on Monday, however, losing 8-2 to the Minnesota Wild to conclude its five-game road trip.
"For the last three games, I thought our game was there," Canadiens forward Josh Anderson said of the three games leading up to the 8-2 defeat. "We were finding ways to get a point and coming together."
Then, as Anderson said, "Things just got out of hand" against the Wild.
"I found they were doing circles around us in the zone, and it kind of looked like shinny hockey there for most of the game," Anderson said. "That's on us as players. We've got to compete, we've got to be physical, win 50-50 puck battles. We just got beat all over the ice."
The Ducks are coming off a 4-3 shootout loss to the Maple Leafs on Wednesday in Toronto.
Anaheim rallied from a 3-1 deficit to earn a point, giving the team a 1-0-1 mark to open its five game-road trip.
The Ducks have earned at least a point in three straight games against three of the top four teams in the Atlantic Division.
They beat the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 on Friday, then opened the road trip with a 5-3 victory against the Boston Bruins on Monday.
The Ducks gave up three goals on the penalty kill against the Maple Leafs, but that unit has been key to Anaheim's surprising success this season.
"Our PK is one of the best in the league," Ducks forward Sam Carrick said. "Having (goalie John Gibson) stand on his head helps us, but we need to help him a lot more and stay out of the box and get back to our game, which is the same game that helped us beat Boston and beat Tampa."
Gibson likely will serve as the backup against the Canadiens after making 41 saves against the Maple Leafs.
Anthony Stolarz is expected to slide into the crease, and he'll try to bounce back after allowing six goals in his last start on Jan. 14, a 7-3 defeat against the Wild.
Stolarz went into COVID-19 protocol the following day, but he was active as Gibson's backup at Toronto.
The Canadiens have their own health issues at the goalie position. Jake Allen sustained a lower-body injury last week and will be out eight weeks, and Sam Montembeault missed the past two games with a wrist injury, leaving his status in doubt. Cayden Primeau is the top option if Montembeault remains sidelined.
--Field Level Media