Dave Tippett isn’t one to dwell in the past. When asked about the franchise’s dismal record in games played in Montreal, the Coyotes coach was only interested in his short-term memory.
“We won here last year,” Tippett said. “That’s all I need to know.”
Here’s what you should know as the Coyotes prepare to face the Canadiens on Thursday at Bell Centre. The Coyotes have just two wins (2-6-2) in Montreal since moving to the Valley in 1996-97. Overall, the franchise is 4-27-2-1 combined at the old Montreal Forum and the Bell Centre, home of the Canadiens since 1996. The Coyotes-Jets franchise has been outscored 159-75 in 34 games in Montreal.
The Winnipeg Jets recorded their two Montreal wins in back-to-back seasons (1983-84 and 1984-85). The other Arizona win came in the Coyotes’ inaugural season when they defeated Montreal, 5-4, on Oct. 28, 1996 behind two goals from Mike Gartner and two assists from Jeremy Roenick.
Last season, Lauri Korpikoski scored two power-play goals, Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored an unassisted goal and goalie Louis Domingue, who is from the Montreal suburb of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, made 18 saves to win his first NHL start and give Arizona its first win in Montreal in its last nine tries.
Mike Smith is expected to start in goal Thursday for the Coyotes, who will need a much better effort than they have seen in the first two games of this four-game road trip to run their Montreal winning streak to two games.
“Our execution has been poor,” said Tippett, who held a series of meetings on Tuesday to refocus his team after 5-2 losses to the Columbus Blue Jackets and the New York Islanders. “We hung around the game in Columbus but we didn’t compete hard enough. Our effort against New York was not good. We’re just making too many mistakes.”
The penalty-killing unit, which will be minus defenseman Nicklas Grossmann once again, has hurt the Coyotes on this trip. The Blue Jackets and Islanders combined for three power play goals on eight chances while the Coyotes’ power play went 1-for-8.
The Canadiens enter the game with the league’s fourth-ranked power play at 23.9 percent (16 for 67). Before a loss to Colorado on Saturday, Montreal had scored a power-play goal in seven straight games and has four games already this season in which it has scored two power-play goals.
Tippett hasn’t decided yet whether he will play recent AHL call-up Philip Samuelsson for a second straight game to try to replace Grossmann’s physical presence on the penalty-killing unit.
“He’s got some experience in that role,” Tippett said. “We need some help there right now.”
Coyotes at Canadiens
When: Thursday, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Bell Centre, Montreal
TV: FOX Sports Arizona
Radio: ESPN 620 AM
Injury report: Canadiens — G Carey Price (lower body) and D Alexei Emelin (lower body) are day to day and will not play. Coyotes — D Nicklas Grossmann (lower body) and F Joe Vitale (fractured orbital bone) are day to day and will not play.
Scouting the Habs: David Desharnais scored 3:25 into overtime and the Canadiens overcame a three-goal deficit for a 4-3 win against Vancouver at Bell Centre on Monday to snap Montreal’s two-game losing streak (0-1-1). … Montreal is tied with the New York Rangers and Dallas for the NHL lead with 30 points. … G Mike Condon is filling in while Price is out. Price practiced with his teammates Wednesday for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury that has sidelined him since the end of October. He is nearing a return but will not face the Coyotes. … F Max Pacioretty leads the team with nine goals and is tied with four players for the team-lead in points with 17.