On Tuesday, Montreal’s losing streak in San Jose reached 11 games, making it more than 17 years since the Canadiens have beaten the Sharks at home. The Habs aren’t the only franchise with a dreaded road stop, however.
Earlier this season, Calgary finally put an end to an incredible run of futility, a 25-game losing streak in Anaheim that dated all the way back to 2003-04. And when, at long last, the Flames downed the Ducks at the Honda Center, it gave hope to at least one more Canadian team that their struggles on the West Coast could soon end, too.
Alas, the Montreal Canadiens weren’t as lucky as their Calgarian counterparts. On Tuesday night in San Jose, the Habs skated into the SAP Center looking to slay a Sharks team that has been nearly unbeatable for the visiting Canadiens. But when all was said and done, the Sharks took a 5-2 victory and handed Montreal its 11th straight defeat to ensure the losing streak in San Jose will stretch to an 18th year.
No, that’s not a typo. The last time Montreal won in San Jose was Nov. 23, 1999, which is long enough ago that not a singe player from the winning Canadiens side is even in the league anymore. That Montreal club was powered to victory by Sergei Zholtok, Martin Rucinsky and Craig Rivet, who scored the winner in overtime. The Canadiens were, at the time, backstopped by Jose Theodore, who was still a backup and two years away from winning the Hart and Vezina. Need further example of how long ago the win was? Consider this: Montreal’s 2017 first-round pick Ryan Poehling hadn’t even celebrated his first birthday the last time the Canadiens won in San Jose.
So, suffice to say, it’s been a while since Montreal has really been able to enjoy their stay in the Bay Area. The Canadiens aren’t the last remaining team with some prolonged struggles in a visiting arena, however. Here are five other extended road losing streaks:
5. Coastal Canada not a happy place for Hurricanes
Given that it’s a cross-conference match-up, the Hurricanes don’t often have to travel out to British Columbia, but that might be for the best because Carolina hasn’t been able to defeat the Canucks in Vancouver in more than 18 years. The Hurricanes have come close, taking three contests to overtime during their current nine-game losing streak in Vancouver and losing five of those games by one goal, but that doesn’t really lessen the sting.
The last time the Hurricanes beat the Canucks was Oct. 15, 1999, which marked the franchise’s third trip to Vancouver since relocating from Hartford to Carolina. The hero in that game? Jeff O’Neill, who picked up two goals en route to a 4-1 victory. Hurricanes GM Ron Francis was still a top-line center at the time. Yeah, it was a long time ago.
When will Carolina get their next chance to break the streak? On Dec. 5 – and with a roster that’s much better than in past years, chances are the Hurricanes can snap the streak.
4. Coyotes’ losing streak is bigger in Texas
Arizona has gone through some tough times, to be sure. They’ve been outside the playoff picture for the past five seasons and among the league’s very worst teams, statistically, over that same span. So, really, it’s no surprise to see the Coyotes on this list. What might be unexpected, however, is that Arizona’s losing streak isn’t really all that far from home. In fact, it’s just two states over in Texas where the Dallas Stars have absolutely had the Coyotes’ number, and that includes Tuesday’s 3-1 decision.
In their past 10 trips to the Lone Star State, the Coyotes have walked away with a grand total of three points. And though two of those contests were toss-ups — shootout losses in 2011-12 and 2012-13 — Arizona’s combined goal differential since their last win in Dallas back in February 2012 is minus-18. That’s nearly a two-goal spread in every single outing.
Thankfully — or unfortunately for the Coyotes, depending on how you look at it — there isn’t going to be another chance to snap the streak this season. Arizona and Dallas square off two more times this season, but the Coyotes host both games.
3. No glitz or glamor for Oilers in Los Angeles
There has to be something going on that makes it difficult for the Alberta-based teams to win in Southern California. As noted, Calgary has only just snapped a 25-game losing streak in Anaheim and the Edmonton Oilers are currently on their own run of futility when visiting the Los Angeles Kings that dates back to April 2012.
Over the past five-plus years, the Oilers have visited Staples Center 11 times, yet have only one measly point to show for it. That single came back in October 2013, but in the time since, Edmonton has suffered six defeats of two goals or more, including one five- and one six-goal loss. Ouch.
The tides are turning for the two franchises, though, as the Oilers, despite a slow start, look to be one of the brightest young teams in the league, while the Kings are looking for their new identity. That could mean the Oilers’ 11-game drought in Los Angeles comes to an end when the two teams meet in Hollywood on Feb. 7, 2018.
2. Hurricanes repeatedly bested on Broadway
Much like Edmonton’s struggles in Los Angeles could end as the two teams head in different directions, the same might be said of the Hurricanes’ failures at Madison Square Garden. Carolina has drafted and developed an impressive foundation and supplemented it with plenty of talent through trades, while the New York Rangers appear to be on the cusp of a retooling. Thus, now might be the perfect time for Carolina to finally take a bite out of the Big Apple. The Hurricanes are quite frankly due, too.
While the Canes’ struggles haven’t lasted nearly as long in New York as they have in Vancouver, the volume of losses is far greater by virtue of the two teams meeting often during the past several campaigns. Since the start of 2011, Carolina has travelled to MSG 13 times. And 13 times, the Hurricanes have skated away with a loss. The last time the Hurricanes actually beat the Rangers in New York was nearly seven years ago, on Oct. 29, 2010.
Carolina will get its shot at putting a stop to the streak shortly before they look to end their drought in Vancouver. On Dec. 1, the Hurricanes travel to meet the Rangers for the first time this season. And if Carolina happens to lose, they’ll get another shot on March 12, 2018.
1. Jets grounded in Pittsburgh
The Jets’ difficulty with beating the Penguins in Pittsburgh has gone on so long that, really, the Jets didn’t even exist when the streak started. That’s right: it’s been so long since Winnipeg won in Pittsburgh that their last win when visiting Sidney Crosby & Co. came during the franchise’s days in Atlanta.
Let’s look back at that Thrashers team, shall we? Powering Atlanta to the win in that Dec. 27, 2006, contest was Marian Hossa and Slava Kozlov, while Kari Lehtonen, then in his third NHL season, was the winning goalie. It was so long ago that Crosby was in his sophomore season and had yet to win even the first of this three Stanley Cups.
The decade-plus losing streak in Pittsburgh was made possible by a perfect storm of sorts. When the streak started, the two teams faced often enough that the defeats in Pittsburgh were able to pile up and, upon the franchise shifting to Winnipeg and the eventual divisional realignment, the two teams have met so infrequently that one loss can extend the streak by another year. That doesn’t mean the Jets haven’t had their chances to end the drought, though. Seven of the streak’s 16 losses have come since the franchise moved to Winnipeg.
The Jets can stop the streak from reaching the 11-year mark, however. Winnipeg visits Pittsburgh on Oct. 26, but it’s the Jets’ only chance to beat the Penguins on their home turf this season.
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