for this game

Skidding Habs visit Coyotes

Mar 7, 2015 - 4:06 PM ( - The Montreal Canadiens will try to avoid their longest losing streak of the season when they visit the Arizona Coyotes for Saturday's encounter at Gila River Arena.

The Canadiens have dropped their last three games, marking the club's fourth skid of that length in 2014-15 and first since Dec.3-6. Montreal's last four- game slide came in an 0-4-0 stretch from Jan. 18-25 of last season.

The Habs' current 0-2-1 slide has allowed Tampa Bay to creep within two points of first place in the Atlantic Division. The New York Islanders also have moved just one point behind Montreal for the Eastern Conference lead. The Lightning are hosting Dallas on Saturday, while the Isles visit the Florida Panthers.

After dropping two straight in regulation to begin a four-game road trip, the Canadiens managed to earn a point Thursday in Los Angeles. Montreal rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead, but eventually fell 4-3 in the shootout loss.

L.A. scored twice in the first period before the Habs evened the contest in the second on goals from Tom Gilbert and Brendan Gallagher. Max Pacioretty's 31st goal of the season handed Montreal its first lead with 12:48 left in the third, but Marian Gaborik scored on the power play with 45 seconds remaining in regulation to send it to overtime.

The Kings eventually won after Anze Kopitar scored the deciding goal in the fourth round of the shootout.

"It's not a good result at all," said Pacioretty. "We had that game in the bag. We were playing the right way, and obviously we let it slip and that's a frustrating feeling."

Montreal gave No. 1 netminder Carey Price the night off on Thursday and backup Dustin Tokarski made 26 saves in the loss.

Price expects to be back in net Saturday. He owns a perfect career mark of 6-0 against the Coyotes and also sports a lifetime 1.65 goals against average in this matchup.

The Habs enter the finale of this trek with a solid 19-11-2 record on the road this season.

Montreal had won five straight on the road against the Coyotes before falling 5-2 in Arizona on March 6 of last season. The Coyotes have claimed two straight in the series overall after going winless in the previous 14 meetings in this series.

The Coyotes are coming off Thursday's shootout win over the visiting Canucks. The 3-2 victory halted a 10-game skid one loss shy of breaking a dubious club record for consecutive setbacks. Arizona also snapped a franchise worst nine- game home slide (0-8-1) as the Coyotes won in Glendale for the first time since Jan. 8.

Sam Gagner scored the lone goal of the shootout to help the Coyotes end both losing streaks. Gagner, Arizona's first shooter, beat Eddie Lack blocker side with a wrister that rang off the post. Mike Smith stopped Nick Bonino, Radim Vrbata and Chris Higgins to seal the outcome.

Tobias Rieder and Tye McGinn lit the lamp during regulation and Smith made 32 saves in the Coyotes' first win since Feb. 9.

"Winning is fun," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said. "If you're miserable winning, then you're just miserable all the time."

Coyotes captain Shane Doan played in his 1,378th game and tied Joe Sakic, Vincent Damphousse and Dean Prentice for 39th on the NHL's all-time list .

Arizona is just 10-17-4 as the host this season and is playing the third part of a six-game homestand on Saturday.

Smith will start against the Canadiens and is 3-1-3 with a 2.20 GAA in his career versus Montreal.