Once again without the services of star winger Rick Nash, the New York Rangers will try to avoid a third straight loss when they visit the Montreal Canadiens for Saturday's clash at the Bell Centre.
Nash has missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury suffered in a win last Sunday against Washington. He is not with the team in Montreal and it's unclear if he'll be able to return for New York's next game, which is scheduled for Tuesday against the visiting Winnipeg Jets.
Nash was acquired in a blockbuster trade with Columbus last summer and has three goals and a team-high 12 points this season.
Saturday's contest is the second meeting between the Rangers and Canadiens in less than a week. Montreal visited New York on Tuesday and handed the Nash- less Blueshirts a 3-1 loss. Carey Price turned aside 24-of-25 shots in the win for the Canadiens, who are tied with New Jersey for the most points (24) in the Eastern Conference this season.
Montreal has claimed three of the last four meetings in this Original Six series and the Rangers have dropped six straight and eight of their previous nine tilts at the Bell Centre.
After losing at home to Montreal on Tuesday, the Rangers were handed a shootout loss Thursday in Ottawa. Kaspars Daugavins scored the deciding goal in the seventh round to lift the Senators to a 3-2 come-from-behind win at Scotiabank Place.
New York scored twice in the third period to take a 2-1 lead but Ottawa's Mika Zibanejad scored with 6:30 remaining in regulation to force overtime.
Senators goaltender Ben Bishop shined during the shootout phase after being pressed into duty for an injured Craig Anderson. The backup netminder turned back six of the seven New York skaters he faced after letting up a pair of third-period goals less than a minute apart in his relief stint.
Henrik Lundqvist came up with 35 saves in regulation and overtime for New York, losers of three of four games since a three-game winning streak from Feb. 7-12. Ryan Callahan and Ryan McDonagh each had a goal for the Rangers in Thursday's loss.
"I think you have to be happy with the point, but at the same time you're not settled or satisfied with that," Callahan remarked.
New York hasn't lost three in a row since an 0-3-0 stretch from March 6-9 of last season.
In addition to Nash being out, Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto is questionable for Saturday's game due to a lower-body injury suffered in the third period of Thursday's loss.
Meanwhile, the Canadiens will try to get back in the win column on Saturday after having their longest winning streak of the season halted their last time on the ice. Montreal won five straight before losing to the New York Islanders in overtime on Thursday.
Rookie defenseman Thomas Hickey won the game for the Islanders by scoring his first NHL goal with 1:48 left in overtime, lifting New York to the 4-3 road win.
Max Pacioretty scored twice and Travis Moen also lit the lamp for the Canadiens. Price allowed all four goals on 25 shots in the setback.
"It's a shame we left Carey out to dry like that," Pacioretty said. "Everyone has to look at themselves in the mirror and step up...myself included. Personally, I'm embarrassed."
The OT setback dropped the Canadiens to 7-3-1 as the home team this season. The Rangers are just 2-3-1 on the road.