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Game Thread: Rinne, Preds blank Habs 3-0


Andrei Kotitsyn and his little brother meet head to head for the first time tonight, as the Nashville Predators (7-6-3) visit the Montreal Canadiens (12-5-1).

Sergei Kostitsyn's actual playing time, if any, may rely on the decision of Predators head coach Barry Trotz. The Predators left winger is currently on the fourth line, with 3 points in 12 games, and has seen less than nine minutes of ice time in his last two games.

Meanwhile, big brother has been a steady performer for Montreal with 14 points and a plus 4 rating.

The Predators skate into the Bell Centre after an embarrassing 5-4 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. Nashville held a 4-1 lead, but a disciplinary breakdown let the Leafs capitalize on the power play.

The Nashville offense is 23rd in goals-per-game and have a power play that ranks 26th in the league.

Canadiens fans should not expect to see the same physical game that they saw Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Predators are 29th in blocked shots and 26th in hits. Suffice to say they tend not to use the body.

One of the team's assets is their discipline, where the sixth least penalized team.

Pekka Rinne should get the call in goal and is 1-1-0 with a 1.52 GAA and .925 SvPct (1 Shutout) against Montreal.

The return of Frankie the Bull: Former Habs defenceman Francis Bouillon also makes his return to the Bell Centre tonight.

PREDATORS PROJECTED LINEUP

Forwards

Steve Sullivan - Cal O’Reilly - Patric Hornqvist

Joel Ward - David Legwand - J.P. Dumont

Martin Erat - Marcel Goc -Jordin Tootoo

Sergei Kostitsyn - Jerred Smithson -Colin Wilson

Defense Pairings

Shea Weber - Ryan Suter ; Francis Bouillon, Kevin Klein ; Shane O’Brien, Cody Franson

Goalies

Pekka Rinne , Anders Lindback

The Canadiens are on a four game winning streak, and are led by Carey Price who has been outstanding in the Montreal goal.

Price lost his only start against Rinne and the Predators, despite a 53-save performance, in a 2-0 decision on November 14, 2009.

Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri are on five-game point-scoring streaks and the Habs penalty killing unit leads the NHL.

Jeff Halpern and Josh Gorges took a therapy day from Monday's practice. Gorges is a definite for tonight, while Halpern could be a game-time decision Dustin Boyd would take is place in the lineup if needed.

The Canadiens are 7-2-1, with one tie, against Nashville lifetime, and are 5-0-0 at the Bell Centre.

CANADIENS PROBABLE LINEUP

Forwards:
Brian Gionta - Tomas Plekanec - Mike Cammalleri
Andrei Kostitsyn - Scott Gomez - Maxim Lapierre
Benoit Pouliot - Jeff Halpern - Mathieu Darche
Travis Moen -Lars Eller -Tom Pyatt
Defense Parings:
P.K. Subban - Alexandre Picard, Josh Gorges - Hal Gill, Jaroslav Spacek- Roman Hamrlik

Goalies:

Carey Price , Alex Auld

Coverage on the visiting team from On the Forecheck

Habs update: With Andrei Markov to be out long-term, the Canadiens have called up defenceman Yannick Weber from the Hamilton Bulldogs

Must read article: Pierre LeBrun on the success of Carey Price

SCORING SUMMARY

Second Period

1. NAS Marcel Goc (Bouillon) 1:19

Third Period

2. Nas Cal O'Reilly (Sullivan, Hornqvist) 8:55

3. NAS Marcel Goc (Klein, Bouillon) 11:17

Three Stars 1.Pekka Rinne 2. Marcel Goc 3. Francis Bouillon

POST GAME

Rinne: As added up by Dave Stubbs, 138:55 of shutout hockey going back to January 2009.

Why is it?: The Canadiens step up against top-level teams, then fall apart against middle of the pack or lower. Spacek and Hamrlik were not the pair we saw shut down the Sedins last week.

The Habs were beginning to get some chances, then had the wind knocked out of their sales on the O'Reilly goal

Did I say 26th in Hits? Predators threw out 34 to the Habs 18

Halpern Watch: Clearly still recovering from Tuesday night. Just 9:22 TOI (half in the third period) and just three faceoffs.

Lars Eller: A Solid game, and had some chances tonight. Martin: "Lars used his speed, and is gaining experience."

From Kyle Roussel on Twitter: "If Price is going to give up a bad goal, it may as well be late in a game in which his mates haven't done anything right."

Habs when allowing three goals: 0-6-1 and shutout three times.

Jacques Martin: "I can accept losing, when we have a strong effort. Our top guys didn't perform."

Cammalleri: "We've got some disappointed people in this room. We could've created some better opportunities. We didn't force him (Rinne) to make any hard saves."

Bouillon on his return: "I was really happy, at the end of the game, when the crowd was cheering for me. When I came this morning, I was looking for our dressing room, cause I didn't know where it was before."