The Rangers are road worriers this season with a 3-7-2 record away from home, contrasted with a 10-4-0 record at home at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers will have veteran defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk on board against the Canadiens after he and Rangers rookie coach David Quinn addressed the issue that led to Shattenkirk’s benching in the third period during a 3-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.
“Absolutely,” Quinn told Newsday when asked if the benching had been put behind them. “You’ll see him (Saturday) night.”
The 29-year-old Shattenkirk was a healthy scratch on Oct. 11. The free agent signed a four-year, $26.6 million contract in the summer of 2017.
Quinn and Shattenkirk have a history going back to when Quinn, then an assistant coach at Boston University, recruited Shattenkirk to play for the school. Shattenkirk said they have moved on from Thursday’s drama.
“That’s something that’s handled in house, and something that we talked about today and it’s water under the bridge,” Shattenkirk told Newsday. “So we move on. We need to move on quickly — it’s just a tough emotional night, and that’s what it came down to.
“He knows how to get the best out of me,” Shattenkirk said. “I know, sometimes, it can feel, as a player, that he’s pushing your buttons. But it’s all for the right reasons. And I have the utmost respect for him and listen to him 100 percent of the time.”
The Rangers, battling injuries in the forward ranks, called up right winger Vinni Lettieri from Hartford of the American Hockey League.
Alexandar Georgiev, the first Bulgarian-born player in the NHL, will get the start in goal for the Rangers. The 22-year-old is 4-3-0 this season and is coming off a 29-save shutout in his last start against the New York Islanders on Nov. 21.
The Canadiens (11-9-5) have their own issues. They have lost five in a row (0-3-2), their longest losing streak of the season, though they might have deserved better. They are coming off a 2-1 loss at home to the Carolina Hurricanes in which they had 93 shot attempts.
“We were able to have two good practices yesterday and today and the chemistry is still good,” Canadiens forward Phillip Danault told the team’s website. “We’re not going to change our attitude or our system because we lost a game. We haven’t had any bad games. We haven’t played very badly. We for sure have some things to work on, but we’ve done some good things, too.”
“We didn’t play badly against the Hurricanes,” Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin told montrealcanadiens.com. “It’s true we’ve lost five straight games, but we’ve always had a chance to win. It’s 82 games. We have to continue working and not giving up.”
Canadiens captain Shea Weber will play his second game of the season after offseason knee and ankle surgery. He had 13 shot attempts in his season debut against the Hurricanes.
“A good two days of practice, for sure. I’d probably just rather play a bunch of games, get back into games,” Weber told montrealcanadiens.com. “It’s good to practice and get things going that way, but I’ve had time to practice before and it wasn’t the same as a game. The game situations, you have to get in those and live those to get it back.”