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Canadiens look to rebound vs. Flames

The Montreal Canadiens are off to an unexpectedly good start this season with a 4-1-2 record, but are facing their first bit of adversity when they host the Calgary Flames at Bell Centre on Tuesday.

The Canadiens twice blew two-goal leads and ultimately lost 4-3 in overtime Saturday to the Ottawa Senators, another early-season surprise. It will be interesting to see how the Canadiens bounce back against the Flames.

"You have to learn from losses," Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher told after practice Monday. "You learn more from a loss than you do from a win. We made some mistakes. We understand the errors we made.

"After our previous losses, we've done a pretty good job of responding. This is a little bit of a different situation, where we let a lead slip away," Gallagher said. "Now we have to react the appropriate way, come back strong with a good effort and learn how to play in those situations."

Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, who gave up four goals on 34 shots against the Senators, will be under the microscope. He gave up a weak goal on a shot along the goal line by Ottawa's Mikkael Boedker that cut the Canadiens lead to 3-2 on Saturday.

Price, who is in the first year of an eight-year, $84 million contract that pays him $15 million this season, ranks 34th in the NHL in save percentage (.904) and 25th in save percentage (2.57).

The Canadiens are expected to go with the same lineup, which means forwards Charles Hudon (healthy scratch) and Tomas Plekanec (back) and defenseman Victor Mete (hand) could be out. There's a possibility Mete could play, which could result in Karl Alzner, who had a rough night against Ottawa, being scratched.

The Canadiens must improve in the faceoff circle. They are ranked last in the NHL with a 42.6 winning percentage. They lost both faceoffs in overtime against the Senators, when possession is critical in a 3-on-3 situation, before losing the game.

"At the end of the day, I think there's a lot of things that go into being a good faceoff guy," Canadiens coach Claude Julien told The Montreal Gazette. "For certain guys, it's the experience of going through the league at least once, knowing the centermen they're taking them against. You learn to see the tendencies. You also understand that there's some experience that comes into play.

"There's also guys that have a real good eye-hand coordination that's unbelievable. Some of it is determination. There's so many things that come into play as far as being a centerman. So you keep working on that stuff, repetition and talking about it before our games. Even guys are watching the team that we're playing taking faceoffs (on video) and how they take them. So we try and help them as best we can in all areas, whether it's practice, whether it's video. We understand we need to get better."

It could be a long night for the Canadiens given the Flames are ranked eighth in the NHL in faceoff winning percentage at 52.3 percent.

The Flames are coming off a 4-1 win against the Rangers in New York on Sunday.

Elias Lindholm, 23, whom the Flames acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes along with Noah Hanifan for Dougie Hamilton in June, is tied for the team lead in goals with five.

He has been playing on Calgary's top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.

"We built some chemistry pretty early in the season," Gaudreau told the team's website. "He's a great teammate and a great player, a smart player, so it makes it easier to (transition) when you're playing with that good of a guy and that skilled of a player. Hopefully we can keep building off of it because I know all three of us have five, six years left on our contracts in Calgary. Hopefully we can keep building off of it and get a pretty solid line together."

Calgary coach Bill Peters, who also joined the Flames from the Hurricanes, coached Lindholm in Carolina after the Hurricanes selected him with the No. 5 pick in the 2013 NHL draft.

"Lindy has been a good player for a long time," Peters said on "He probably came into the league a little bit early. He played right after he got drafted and then got hurt and went down to the American League and back up, so I'm very familiar with his path. But he's a very smart player, a very reliable player who can play center and wing, real good on faceoffs. He's a good player and that's why he got drafted where he got drafted and we're excited to have him. He's going to bring a lot to our organization over time."

Montreal forward Andrew Shaw said the Canadiens will be ready for the Flames speed.

"They're young, they're skilled, they're quick," he told the team website. "The goalie (Mike Smith) can handle the puck pretty well so we have to be sure on our dumps. They are a team that's not going to go away shy. When they compete with the skill and speed they have, they are a very dangerous team."

Updated October 23, 2018

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