Game preview: Canadiens vs. Wild
CANADIENS (10-9-2) vs. WILD (13-4-4)
After being shut out by the Rangers at the Bell Centre on Saturday, the Habs will look to get more offensive production from their skaters when they play host to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.
Despite another superlative performance by Carey Price, who turned aside 33 of 34 shots against New York, the Habs could not solve rookie netminder Cam Talbot in a 1-0 defeat. Rangers captain Ryan Callahan scored the lone goal on the evening, tipping home a Brad Richards feed on the power play in the second period. In his first game back since April, Alexei Emelin logged over 16 minutes of ice time and put up three hits to the delight of the home crowd.
For one of the first times since the season-opener, the Habs look to have a full lineup in place. With the return of Emelin and Brandon Prust over the weekend, head coach Michel Therrien shuffled the team’s lines at Monday’s practice. Emelin skated with Josh Gorges, while Prust was back alongside Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller. Elsewhere, Tomas Plekanec centered Rene Bourque and Brian Gionta, David Desharnais slotted in with Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher, and Daniel Briere centered Michael Bournival and Travis Moen.
Despite their superior 13-4-4 record, the Wild’s numbers are similar to those of the Canadiens. Both teams have played the same number of games (21), allowed nearly the same number of goals (44 for Minnesota and 45 for Montreal) and scored a similar amount of goals as well (55 for Minnesota and 52 for Montreal).
The Wild are led by Minneapolis native Zach Parise, who leads the team with 18 points this season. He is backed up by veteran forwards Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville, along with young guns Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter. On defense, 29-year-old Ryan Suter is a perennial Norris Trophy contenter, averaging a league-leading 29:36 of ice time per game. Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella are also among the Wild`s top defenders on the back end. In the absence of Niklas Backstrom (concussion), Josh Harding will start for the Wild.
The Wild, who are set to begin a four-game road swing, have won four games in a row and eight of their last ten games. Most recently, they bested the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday by a score of 2-1.
This will be the second of two games between Montreal and Minnesota during the 2013-14 season. Last time around, Jason Pominville scored the game-winner late in the third period, as the Wild downed the Habs 4-3 at the Xcel Energy in early November.