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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, December 17th (All times Eastern)

Phoenix Coyotes (18-9-5) at Montreal Canadiens (20-12-3), 7:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Phoenix Coyotes hope to begin a four-game tour of Atlantic Division cities with a win, as they visit the struggling Montreal Canadiens for Tuesday's battle at the Bell Centre.

The Coyotes enter this road trip having posted a solid 3-1-1 mark over their last five game as the guest, but that may not help them tonight in Montreal, where Phoenix hasn't won since Oct. 28, 1996. Since that 5-4 overtime win from over 17 years ago, the Coyotes are 0-5-1 with a pair of ties when visiting the Habs.

Phoenix's last win of any kind in this series came in the desert on Dec. 9, 1998. Montreal is 10-0 with three ties over the last 13 meetings against the Coyotes.

The Coyotes will try to bounce back from a loss tonight after having a two- game win streak snapped in Saturday's 3-1 home setback against Carolina. Jeff Skinner scored the game-winner three minutes into the final period to lift the Hurricanes past Phoenix.

Paul Bissonnette notched his first goal of the season for the Coyotes, while Mike Smith allowed two goals on 32 shots in defeat.

"Every play counts and it came down to one faceoff and one loose puck that we lost and it ends up that's the one that's the difference in the game," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "We had some good chances, some chances to capitalize in the third and we didn't do it."

Phoenix, which is 8-6-3 as the guest this season, will also visit Toronto, Ottawa and Buffalo during this trip.

Montreal enters Tuesday just three points behind Boston for first place in the Atlantic, but the Canadiens have lost three of their last four games. The Habs last played on Sunday, when they dropped a 2-1 regulation decision against the visiting Florida Panthers.

The Canadiens trailed Florida 2-0 heading into the third period on Sunday before Alex Galchenyuk scored a power-play goal 2:28 into the final stanza to cut the deficit in half. However, that was as close as Montreal would get, as it fell to 11-7-2 as the host this season.

Peter Budaj stopped 23 shots in the loss. After the contest, Habs coach Michel Therrien blamed Montreal's lackluster effort on fatigue.

"We played 11 games in less than three weeks. Energy-wise, I could tell that they're drained," said Therrien. "When you're at that level, there's no juice. Their execution isn't there and so what we've been asking of them hasn't been done well."

Tuesday's test is the last home test of the 2013 calendar year for the Habs, who will play their next six on the road before hosting Ottawa on Jan. 4.

12/17 10:55:21 ET

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