Game preview: MTL vs. LAK
CANADIENS (19-9-3) vs. KINGS (19-7-4)
Undefeated in regulation time for the past three weeks, the Canadiens are shooting for first place in the Atlantic Division at the Bell Centre on Tuesday.
Thanks to a three-goal second period against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night, Michel Therrien’s troops dismissed the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 and are now the hottest team in the NHL, going 9-0-1 in their past ten games. Brandon Prust had a goal and an assist, Tomas Plekanec scored his team-leading eleventh, and Alex Galchenyuk completed the scoring off a precise Andrei Markov feed. Carey Price was not overly busy, turning aside 23 of 25 shots for his seventh consecutive win.
Meanwhile, the Kings are coming off a royal performance on Saturday, having blanked the New York Islanders 3-0. Rookie Martin Jones only needed 16 saves to pick up his first career shutout, while Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Tyler Toffoli scored for the home team. Kevin Poulin made 21 saves in a losing effort for the Islanders, who fell to 8-17-5 on the season.
The Kings can still count on the strong core of players who brought Los Angeles its first Stanley Cup back in 2012. Anze Kopitar leads the team in scoring (25 points in 30 games) and shares a team-best plus-11 differential with captain Dustin Brown. In addition, Mike Richards and Justin Williams are also producing at their usual pace. The only wildcard up front is sniper Jeff Carter, who is only shooting at an 8.4% efficiency since the start of the season and is currently sporting a minus-1 differential to go with 12 points in 20 games. He does, however, have nine goals in 23 career games versus the Habs, so look for him to make an impact on the outcome of Tuesday's game.
In the absence of starter Jonathan Quick, who is out with a strained groin, coach Darryl Sutter has been relying on off-season acquisition Ben Scrivens, obtained from Toronto in the Jonathan Bernier trade. The 27-year-old Cornell grad has been excellent for the Kings, going 7-2 with a sparkling .943 save percentage since the start of the season. He’ll likely be in goal on Tuesday night. Aside from Quick, Matt Greene (upper body) is the only other injured player on the Kings roster.
In all likelihood, Scrivens will go up against Carey Price, who is 14-8 with a 1.95 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage this year.
Rene Bourque did not practice on Monday and will likely sit out with an upper-body injury.
Tuesday’s game will be the first of two games this season between the Habs and the Kings. While L.A. comes to town with a fine record and a strong team, history is on Montreal’s side. The Kings have yet to win at the Bell Centre in the 21st century. Their last win in Montreal dates back to December 1999.Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST.