MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens are hoping to have first-line center Jonathan Drouin back in the lineup Thursday when they host the Calgary Flames at Bell Centre.
Drouin has missed the past three games with a lower-body injury and was absent from practice Wednesday because of illness. A decision will be made Thursday, but Canadiens coach Claude Julien was optimistic he'd be well enough to dress.
"I think so, yes. We're hoping so because our goal, the possibility was for him to play (Thursday)," Julien said on montrealcanadiens.com. "Now it's a question mark because he's sick. We'll have to see how well that comes around in the next day."
Drouin, 22, was acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning on June 15 for defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. He is second on the Canadiens in scoring with 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 25 games.
The Canadiens (13-13-3) will be looking to bounce back from a 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday which ended Montreal's five-game winning streak and a stretch of six games with at least a point (5-0-1).
The Flames (14-12-2) will be playing the second half of a back-to-back after losing 2-1 in a shootout at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, their third loss in a row and fourth in their past five games (1-3-1).
"Over the last couple of games, we've put up over 90 shots," Flames coach Glen Gulutzan told the team's website. "We've just got to keep working it, right? Lately if you look at our games we haven't been getting any bounces."
"There were a lot of positives other than the loss," Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau told calgaryflames.com. "We've got to just keep building off of this because we play another pretty good goaltender (Thursday) in Montreal. When we get our looks we have to find the net."
Canadiens goaltender Carey Price lost for the first time in six games Tuesday against the Blues since returning from a lower-body injury that kept him out for 10 games. Price has allowed 10 goals since his return.
"When we were winning we felt we were sustaining O-zone pressure and playing with the puck," Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty told montrealcanadiens.com Wednesday. "We were too one-and-done in the last game. We worked on that (Wednesday)."
The good news in the loss was the Canadiens got offense from their defense as all three goals were scored by defensemen with Shea Weber scoring two, including his 500th NHL point, and Jordie Benn.
The bad news is the forwards were shut out including Pacioretty, who has one goal in 11 games and eight on the season.
"I know that sometimes we look at goal scorers and because they have 'X' amount of goals every year, that's what we're looking at," Julien said. "I think Max is doing a lot of good things other than what we're talking about right now. He's also a guy that when pucks start going in for him, they come in bunches so I would expect that at some point to happen."
Flames forward Jaromir Jagr did not play Wednesday and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury that he sustained Nov. 28 in a 4-1 loss to the Maple Leafs.