The Rangers, who have won three straight, are in a stretch in which they will play only two games in 10 days. Does the break come at an unfortunate time? Not for veterans Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis. They said the time will be well-spent on practices and rest for those with aches and pains.
"We've played a lot of games [seven] so far, so I don't mind it," said Nash, who has eight goals.
"We've played well recently, but there's things we can work on," said St. Louis (six points).
Mats Zuccarello said he wouldn't mind playing "if we got more days off around Christmas." Zuccarello, who scored 19 goals last season, is among five Rangers forwards who haven't found the net, including Ryan Malone, Dominic Moore, Tanner Glass and rookie Anthony Duclair.
St. Louis returns home
When the Rangers play the Canadiens on Saturday, St. Louis -- who was raised in Laval, a suburb of Montreal -- will return to the Bell Centre for the first time since the conference finals in late May, which was an emotional series for him.
His mother, France, died suddenly May 8 when the Rangers were in the second round against the Penguins. The Rangers attended the services May 18 in Laval during the conference finals against Montreal.
"I don't know what I'm going to feel," St. Louis said Wednesday. "I'm going to see my family, have a nice dinner on Friday. I'll have a lot of family at the game. The playoffs last year, I'll remember forever."
It also will be the first time back at Bell Centre for Chris Kreider, who was accused by Canadiens players of running goaltender Carey Price in Game 1. Kreider slid into Price and knocked him out of the series with a knee injury.
After a maintenance day Wednesday and an off-day Thursday, Moore and Derick Brassard are expected to skate Friday before the team leaves for Montreal . . . Lee Stempniak ranks third in shots with 19. Nash is first with 25 and Kreider is second with 20.
The Canadiens and Rangers have played seven games, and the second and third periods may determine the result on Saturday. Montreal has scored just three goals in first periods; the Rangers four. After that, the Canadiens have allowed 17, the Rangers 18.