Goaltending wasn’t the issue Tuesday for the Montreal Canadiens. Scoring was, though.
And while Montreal’s head coach Michel Therrien recently called out his goaltenders — remember, their star netminder Carey Price is out with injury — it’s worth noting the Habs have scored a total of just five goals in their last five games, all losses, with the most recent defeat coming against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.
The Habs have now lost five in a row.
The Wild got goals from Jason Pominville in the first period and Charlie Coyle early in the third, then held on for a 2-1 win. Darcy Kuemper made 24 saves for Minnesota.
Mike Condon gave up only two goals on 22 shots faced. In the previous two games combined, the Habs had been ventilated for a total of 11 goals. But their inability to score has been problematic for a while now.
Max Pacioretty is without a goal in five games. David Desharnais is without a point in six games. P.K. Subban has points in three of his last five games, but has only one goal on the season.
Since the end of November, the Habs have been in a free fall with losses in 10 of their last 12 games.
Price is the backbone of Montreal’s success but he’s been out since Nov. 25, and had played in only five games between then and Oct. 27, leaving the Canadiens with the goalie tandem of Condon and Dustin Tokarski.
Two California rivals, the San Jose Sharks and L.A. Kings, do battle in the final game before the holiday break. You can catch all the action on TV (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) or online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
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The Kings enter this game with a chance to increase their lead over the Sharks in the Pacific Division to 10 points, while San Jose can close that deficit heading into the holidays with a victory.
L.A.: The Kings are coming off a 5-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday to conclude a six-game road trip through the Eastern Conference that resulted in seven of a possible 12 points.
San Jose: The Sharks are coming off an overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, despite Joe Pavelski scoring his 16th goal of the season.
The Anaheim Ducks will go into the holiday break on a losing note.
They still get a single point, but are last in the Western Conference standings, which remains arguably one of the biggest stories so far this season because the Ducks were favored to be a force in the West — a potential Stanley Cup contender — when this all began in October.
Mats Zuccarello scored the winner for New York on a power play in overtime, as the Rangers defeated the Ducks 3-2. Anaheim needed a late goal from Rickard Rakell just to force the extra period.
The Ducks conclude this road trip with three of a possible eight points.
Now, what could this loss mean for the Ducks when the schedule resumes next week? There has been speculation about the future of coach Bruce Boudreau in Anaheim, but general manager Bob Murray has been more than patient to this point, despite an underwhelming 12-15-6 record for a team that made it to the conference finals in the spring.
While it looks dire for the Ducks right now, they’re still by no means out of a playoff race. Not in the Pacific Division, which has been a weak spot in the league — with the exception of the L.A. Kings — this season.
While last in the division, the Ducks are only five points back of the second-place Vancouver Canucks, who now sport a record of 13-14-9.
The Vancouver Canucks and Tampa Bay Lightning don’t play each other enough in a season to build a true dislike akin to what you might see between natural or long-time rivals, but that didn’t stop Brandon Prust and Mike Angelidis from dropping the gloves early in the first period of Tuesday’s game.
The fight, a lengthy one, occurred less than three minutes into the game. These two are no stranger to fisticuffs and there is a history between them. They fought twice in one game last March.
The goaltending situation in Toronto has taken yet another twist.
On Friday, the Marlies, AHL affiliate for the Maple Leafs, signed Ray Emery to a PTO. The veteran puck stopper was released from his tryout with the Ontario Reign earlier this month.
This particular move comes with Jonathan Bernier currently holding the No. 1 netminder spot with the Maple Leafs due to injuries to James Reimer and now Garret Sparks.
Bernier, who recently concluded his conditioning stint in the minors, is still searching for his first win of the season, despite playing in 11 games. He replaced Sparks on Thursday after the rookie goalie suffered a lower-body injury versus the Sharks.
The Maple Leafs host the L.A. Kings on Saturday. With trade rumors swirling around him — reports that the Calgary Flames seem to have an interest — Bernier is slated to get the start.
“That’s the great thing about life, you just work hard and prepare, it’s amazing how breaks go your way,” said Leafs head coach Mike Babcock, as per the Globe and Mail.
“He’s got to do the same now. He’s starting the next game, you’ve got to dig in, he’s got to compete and he’s got to battle and he’s got to find his mojo. And he gets an opportunity now he might not have got.”