Canadiens face Capitals in matchup of slow-starting teams

The Montreal Canadiens will wrap up a three-game homestand when they host the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.

Both teams are coming in off losses and dealing with early-season difficulties.

After opening their homestand with a win over the Chicago Blackhawks, the Canadiens dropped a 5-2 decision to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. Minnesota scored three power-play goals and added two short-handed tallies.

The Wild went 3-for-8 on the power play, and the Canadiens were 0-for-5.

“I think we’ve got to stay out of the penalty box,” Canadiens forward Sean Monahan said. “I mean, when you get that many touches and that many opportunities, it’s going to bite you. But our power play, we’ve got to be better and start to simplify it. And I think when we do that, it’s going to generate a lot.”

Tanner Pearson scored for a second straight game for Montreal, and Sam Montembeault made 30 saves. Montreal fell behind 3-0 early in the second period and could get no closer than within 3-1.

“We just kind of came out pretty flat and didn’t have a great start,” Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki said. “We took way too many penalties again and kind of dug ourselves too big of a hole.”

Canadiens defenseman Kaiden Guhle left the game with an upper-body injury in the second period and is day-to-day. Justin Barron, 21, the first-round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche in 2020, could make his season debut against Washington.

While the Canadiens have managed 10 goals over their first three games, the Capitals have scored three, plus Evgeny Kuznetsov’s shootout tally that produced a win against the Calgary Flames.

The Capitals opened their two-game road trip by getting routed 6-1 at Ottawa on Wednesday night. John Carlson scored, and Darcy Kuemper made 23 saves for Washington.

Veterans Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and Tom Wilson are among the Capitals who have yet to score a goal. Ovechkin has gone two games without a shot on goal for the first time in his career (1,350 games).

“It’s a tough loss,” Kuznetsov said. “I feel like (every) mistake we made, it’s in the back of our net. When you play against this type of team, they probably feed energy off their good plays and goals, so we didn’t do a great job eliminating those chances.”

Carlson’s first goal of the season — with assists from Ovechkin and Wilson — pulled the Capitals within 2-1 late in the first period, but the Senators outscored the Capitals 3-0 during second 20 minutes.

“I don’t think it’s a lack of effort,” first-year Capitals coach Spencer Carbery said. “We’re turning over some pucks … we’re struggling right now, we’re not executing well offensively, we’re not clicking like a well-oiled machine offensively, power play, finishing chances, 2-on-1s, odd-man rushes, it’s not clicking.”

Back-up goalie Charlie Lindgren was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. Fourth-line center Nic Dowd missed Tuesday’s game due to an upper-body injury. Dowd’s absence opened a spot for veteran Anthony Mantha, a healthy scratch against the Flames.