How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet One (English), RDS (French)
In the Devils region: MSG+ 2
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/Rogers NHL Live
After back-to-back 3-2 wins on the road, the Montreal Canadiens returned home and put four goal up on the Bell Centre scoreboard. Unfortunately, Alex Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals were able to match that output through 60 minutes, and went on to win the game in overtime.
As has been the case for most of the season, the contest was equal parts strong offensive play and woeful defensive coverage. Montreal again forced Carey Price to deal with 40-plus shots, and despite his efforts to earn his team a point, the Habs were unable to come away with a third consecutive win.
At the very least, it was an entertaining night in what was just a temporary return to the Bell Centre. It was the second high-event contest the two teams have played this season, giving fans their money’s worth with a combined 19 goals in the two matches.
“Entertaining” is a word rarely used in the 40-year history of the Canadiens-New Jersey Devils matchup. In the past two decades, these games may have been among the dullest the Canadiens had on the season’s schedule.
The Devils have gotten away from the stifling defensive system that garnered them so much success around the turn of the millenium. The acquisition of Taylor Hall and a big draft lottery win to allow them to snag Nico Hischier have tranformed the Devils into a more dangerous club.
Tale of the Tape
|1-2-0||H2H Record (17-18)||2-0-1|
|52.1% (6th)||Corsi-for pct.||50.3% (14th)|
|68 (10th)||Goals for||55 (26th)|
|70 (28th)||Goals against||61 (15th)|
|14.1% (28th)||PP%||21.2% (13th)|
|80.0% (17th)||PK%||84.0% (4th)|
Both of those offensive stars had goals in the previous game between the two teams. Hall is the last player to score in the matchup, making the power play look foolish with a late short-handed goal on April 1, 2018. A month beforehand, the Devils recorded a four-goal first period and held on for a 6-4 win.
The bad news for the Devils is that Hischier is currently injured, forced to miss the last four games. It’s been a tough month for New Jersey on that front, as they’ve since had to place Brian Boyle and Sami Vatanen on the Injured Reserve list.
That’s three of their top eight scorers sidelined, and unsurprisingly the Devils have only scored a total of three goals in their last two games.
What they have had are somewhat surprising contributions from Kyle Palmieri, who currently leads the team with 11 goals and 20 points. Seven of those goals came in the opening four games of the year, but the player with a career high of 57 points is contributing more than his share to help the team deal with attrition.
Given New Jersey’s current state, the Canadiens should be favoured to come out on top in tonight’s contest. It’s really a question of how effectively the defence can contain Hall’s game-breaking ability. If the past few games are any indication, the Habs forwards may have to take matters into their own hands.