Season series: This is the only meeting between these Original Six rivals on the 2010-11 schedule. Pavel Datsyuk scored in regulation and again in the shootout as Detroit claimed a 3-2 win in Montreal on Nov. 21, 2009, in the most recent matchup. Mike Cammalleri rallied the Canadiens with a pair of third-period goals.
Big story: Fresh off consecutive regulation losses at home for the first time this season, Detroit hosts Montreal in a battle of teams in first place in their respective divisions. Overall, the Red Wings are 10-3-2 this season at Joe Louis Arena.
Canadiens: As each week passes, any notion that the quick start by Montreal and goalie Carey Price was a fluke is further dispelled. The Canadiens enter on a three-game winning streak with Price allowing a combined total of three goals and posting a .964 save percentage in turning aside the Devils, Sharks and Senators. Jeff Halpern, Brian Gionta and Roman Hamrlik scored third-period goals for a 4-1 win Tuesday against Ottawa.
"We always have confidence in ourselves. The experts might not have believed in us at the beginning, but we've been making them change their tune. Even with 18 wins, we don't pay much attention to what people say," forward Mathieu Darche said. "It's strange to say, but we're trying not to look too far into the future. What we've done in the past means nothing now. What we're going to do in two weeks means nothing now. The only thing that matters is what we do with the present."
Red Wings: A stretch in which Detroit plays seven out of nine games at the Joe has gotten off to a rocky start. On the heels of a 5-2 loss to the Sharks on Monday, the Red Wings gave up goals to the Predators in the final minute of the first period and the opening minute of the second to set the tone in a 3-2 defeat Wednesday. Datsyuk scored shorthanded and Johan Franzen also tallied, each goal cutting the Wings' deficit down to one, but they got no closer against rookie goalie Anders Lindback.
"The San Jose game was a bad game all the way around, try to forget about that," forward Henrik Zetterberg said. "This one, the first half we weren't good enough and that's what we've got to change. We've got to play better for 60 minutes."
Who's hot: Roman Hamrlik has 2 goals and 4 assists during a four-game points streak for the Canadiens. Gionta has 4 goals and 2 assists in his last five games. Cammalleri has goals in back-to-back games. … Franzen has 3 goals and 2 assists during a four-game points streak for the Red Wings. Datsyuk has 2 goals and 7 assists in his last six games.
Injury report: Montreal lost defenseman Andrei Markov for the season due to a knee injury, while forward Scott Gomez is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. … Detroit forward Mike Modano is on injured reserve after undergoing surgery on his wrist.
Stat pack: Price leads the NHL with 17 wins, two more than Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard. He's also challenging for the League lead in goals-against average (1.92), save percentage (.936) and shutouts (4). … Datsyuk is among the League leaders with 22 assists.
Puck drop: Both teams travel after the game and play again Saturday night. Montreal will be in Toronto for a Hockey Night In Canada tilt, while Detroit heads to New Jersey.