The Eastern Conference-leading Montreal Canadiens look to avoid a season-high third straight loss when they host the Atlantic Division-rival Boston Bruins on Wednesday. Montreal has dropped three of its last four – falling to New Jersey in overtime on Nov. 28 and, after edging Columbus, to Washington and Carolina in regulation on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
All three defeats were 3-2 decisions and with rookie Mike Condon in net as reigning Hart and Vezina Trophy winner Carey Price recovers from a lower-body injury that is believed to be knee-related. Boston also has lost three of its last four, with all three defeats being of the one-goal variety and two ending beyond regulation. Two of the setbacks also were 3-2 decisions, including a home contest against Nashville on Monday that ended its eight-game point streak (6-0-2). Montreal has won each of the first two meetings between the Original Six rivals by a 4-2 score – in Boston on Oct. 10 and at home on Nov. 7.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, RSN, RDS (Montreal)
Bruins – LW Joonas Kemppainen (Out, undisclosed), RW David Pastrnak (Out indefinitely, foot), C Chris Kelly (Out indefinitely, leg).
Canadiens – G Carey Price (Mid January, leg), RW Brendan Gallagher (Early January, finger), RW Zach Kassian (Out indefinitely, suspension), RW Devante Smith-Pelly (I-R, lower body), LW Alexander Semin (I-R, lower body), C Torrey Mitchell (I-R, lower body).
ICE GIRL WAR:
The Canadiens don’t have ice girls, so here’s a random hot pic.
ABOUT THE BRUINS (14-9-3): Loui Eriksson netted his team-leading sixth power-play tally Monday, ending his seven-game goal-scoring drought. The 30-year-old Swede had not scored since recording a hat trick on Nov. 19 against Minnesota. Patrice Bergeron needs one point to pass Milt Schmidt (575) for sole possession of 11th place on the franchise list.
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (19-6-3): Alexander Semin cleared waivers Tuesday and was assigned to St. John’s of the American Hockey League. The 31-year-old Russian right wing has registered just one goal and three assists in 15 games during his first season with Montreal after netting only six tallies in 57 contests with Carolina last campaign. To replace him on the roster, the Canadiens recalled left wing Charles Hudon, who has yet to make his NHL debut.
* Bruins are 0-4 in the last four meetings in Montreal.
* Bruins are 5-16 in the last 21 meetings.
* Bruins are 6-0 in their last six vs. Eastern Conference.
* Under is 1-0-4 in Canadiens last five vs. Eastern Conference.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Bettors like the Habs in this Original Six rivalry, with 68 percent of wagers backing Montreal. As for the totals market, 59 percent of wagers are on the over.