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Rangers, Canadiens look to rebound

MONTREAL -- Two of the NHL's top offenses will be looking to rebound when the Montreal Canadiens host the New York Rangers on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.

The Canadiens are back home after a back-to-back set in Winnipeg and Minnesota, which ended with a 7-1 thumping at the hands of the Minnesota Wild. Carey Price was in net for all seven goals, and while some questioned coach Michel Therrien leaving him in, the decision was up to the goaltender after chatting with his coach at the second intermission.

"Nobody else has the chance to get pulled during a game so I'd rather stick it out," Price said after the game.

The Habs' starter, who is expected to get the nod against the Rangers, has seen his numbers drop off over the last month. After Thursday's shelling, Price has now allowed at least three goals in seven of his last 10 starts, and at least four goals in five of those outings while posting a 4-4-2 record during that stretch.

The loss came a night after the Canadiens dropped seven goals of their own on the Jets, marking the sixth time in their last nine games that Montreal has scored at least three goals. Therrien's charges sit fifth in the NHL with an average of 3.07 goals per game.

New York leads the league in that category at 3.43, scoring at least four goals in each of its last five wins. The Rangers' offense was held at bay in a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday, despite 36 shots on goal. Its power play, which ranks eighth in the NHL -- two spots back of Montreal -- was shut out on six opportunities against Toronto.

"Our power play, which had been a real strong weapon for us the last little while, had quite a few opportunities but really didn't get any good looks other than off the faceoff where we won it and we hit the post there," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said after the game. "Other than that their penalty-killing pressure was hard as far as us getting some quality looks."

New York owns the second-best road power play in the NHL and will face a Canadiens penalty kill that sits 23rd overall and has allowed at least one man-advantage tally in nine of their last 10 games (11 goals on 33 opportunities). If there's a silver lining for Montreal, however, it's that the club has been better when down a man at home, ranking eighth overall.

"We lost the special teams battle," said center Derek Stepan following the loss to the Leafs. "It's a key point for us. We talk about it before every game that we have to win those and we lost. You are going to put yourself in a tough spot to win a hockey game when you lose the special teams (battles)."

Plagued by the injury bug for much of December, the Canadiens appear to be ready to get some reinforcements back. The team returned forwards Nikita Scherbak and Bobby Farnham to the AHL's St. John's IceCaps after Thursday's game, suggesting that at least one of Alex Galchenyuk (knee), Andrew Shaw (concussion) or Andrei Markov (groin) could return against the Rangers.
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