How to watch
Start time: 7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Hurricanes region: FOX Sports Carolinas
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/Rogers NHL Live
On Tuesday night, two teams entered the Xcel Energy Center looking to rebound from lacklustre performances. The difference was one of the teams won their previous game and the other did not. The Canadiens, having left Chicago with a Carey Price-fueled 3-2 victory, had a chance to learn from their narrow escape and put in a better effort against a reeling Wild team. Instead, they were put to the sword quickly and efficiently, with all of their special teams failings ruthlessly exposed.
But whether the score is 2-1 or 7-1, the number under the L column only increases by one, and the Habs need to take as many positives as possible from their recent run of good form as they return to the Bell Centre.
Tale of the Tape
|53.8% (4th)||Corsi-for pct.||57.2% (1st)|
|3.06 (14th)||Goals per game||2.45 (29th)|
|3.26 (23rd)||Goals against per game||2.76 (7th)|
|13.5% (30th)||PP%||16.0% (23rd)|
|76.0% (26th)||PK%||80.0% (14th)|
Interestingly enough, the previous meeting between the Habs and the Carolina Hurricanes may have been the impetus for the Habs’ solid play since. Mired in a four-game losing streak and coming off a disappointing loss to the rival Boston Bruins, the Canadiens dominated the league’s best possession team on November 27, outshooting them 49-22 (22-2 in the third period). Yes, they lost that game 2-1 to take their losing streak to five, but the effort level was night and day compared to the four previous games.
Two weeks later, the Habs will need to draw back on that night in order to rebound from the pitiful display we observed in Minnesota. They need look no further than the team in the visiting locker room to see the damage that an undeserved victory can do if allowed to fester. Since leaving Montreal with the two points two weeks ago, the Canes have dropped four of five decisions. To make matters worse, they’ve scored one or fewer goals in all four losses.
The Hurricanes’ offensive futility may be a harbinger of bigger problems. Dating back to November 18, the Canes have scored more than two goals in only three of 10 games played, yet managed to pull off a 5-4-1 record in that span, which means they’re either due for an offensive outburst ... or a prolonged losing streak.
Despite his team’s struggles, Sebastian Aho is still flirting with a point-per-game pace, making the negotiations for his next contract that much more interesting given the team’s second-leading point getter, Teuvo Teravainen, has fewer points (18) than Aho has assists (19).
This game will also mark the second meeting between second overall selection Andrei Svechnikov and third overall pick Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Svechnikov has put up a decent 13 points in 29 games, but that number places him last among 2018 top-four picks in the NHL behind Rasmus Dahlin (14 points), Kotkaniemi (15), and Brady Tkachuk (16).
Curiously, last time out, Kotkaniemi’s primary assignment was Svechnikov’s line, and it was the Russian who handily won that battle (10-6 Corsi, 5-1 scoring chances, in 5:28 TOI) despite Kotkaniemi dominating the night overall (61% CF vs 31%).
But setting aside matchups and statistics, after two duds, the Canadiens need to come out on Thursday and play a decent hockey game as a team. Banking points during this short three-game homestead (Carolina, Ottawa, and Boston) will be critical, as the Habs will prepare to embark on a six-game road trip (broken up by the holiday break) afterward that swings west, east, and then west again.