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Canadiens back home to face concerned Kings

Dec 1, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Montreal Canadiens  goalie Jake Allen (34) stops a shot from the Calgary Flames in the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Kings will bring their longest scoreless streak of the season into their matchup at the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.

The Kings were shut out for the first time this season on Thursday, losing 5-0 on the road against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

They haven’t scored in the past four periods overall.

“I’m actually quite disappointed because we haven’t used words like light or slow in a long, long time with our team,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “Yeah, we’ve had some bad nights where we’ve made mistakes, but (Thursday) was uncharacteristic of ours and it’s a little bit concerning.”

Los Angeles started the six-game road trip with an offensive outburst, scoring four goals in the first period against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, which was more than enough to cruise to a 5-2 win.

But the offense has stalled ever since, in a trend that has become worrisome for McLellan.

“If the mental part is not there, there is no way the physical part is going to be there,” McLellan said. “I thought we were light and slow in the first period (against Toronto), we didn’t win any races, and then when we did even come close to winning any of them, we were real light with our sticks, real light with body position, and it just kept going all night.”

The Canadiens haven’t played since Tuesday, when they wrapped up a four-game road trip with a 4-2 win against the Seattle Kraken.

Montreal started the trip on a high note, beating the Calgary Flames 2-1, but hit a bump in the middle with back-to-back losses to the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks in which they gave up 11 goals in regulation, The Canadiens capped the trip with an impressive win against the Kraken.

“There’s a progression in how we want to play as a team,” Montreal coach Martin St. Louis said. “Teaching the brand and teaching to win are two different things and you can’t really address it at once, you need circumstances and scenarios, examples and you gradually get better at winning.”

The Canadiens will likely come back with Jake Allen in goal against the Kings.

Allen has allowed two goals or fewer in two of his past three starts, and with eight wins in 17 starts this season, he is one victory from matching his win total from last season over 35 starts.

“He’s the best, he’s an amazing goalie, he’s a great guy,” Montreal rookie defenseman Johnathan Kovacevic said of Allen. “How hard he works, everything about him is a picture of solid, a true pro, and he stands on his head for us. We’re so lucky to have him. There’s going to be mistakes back there and he’s had our backs all season.”

The Kings may turn to goalie Pheonix Copley against the Canadiens.

Copley was recalled from Ontario of the American Hockey League on Dec. 1 after Cal Petersen was demoted. The Alaska native made his first start in goal for the Kings against the Senators, stopping 31 of 33 shots.

Copley has a 17-9-3 record in his NHL career that includes previous stops with the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals.

“You could tell he played in the league before,” McLellan said of Copley. “Calm, pretty collected, took a few shots for him to feel comfortable.”

–Field Level Media

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