Montreal Canadiens vs. Minnesota Wild
How to watch
Start time: 7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Wild region: FS-N
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/Rogers NHL Live
The Canadiens have been doing well this year, winning over half of their first 42 games, and generally keeping the score close in those they have lost.
That wasn’t the case on December 11 in Minnesota, as the Habs were handed the only loss of more than four goals to this point, with Antti Niemi beaten seven times on 23 shots in a 7-1 defeat.
The play wasn’t as lopsided as the score suggests, but the special-teams battle definitely was. The Wild scored on four of their power plays and even one of Montreal’s. It was during a four-minute stretch in the middle of the second period that the most damage was done, preventing any chance of a comback for the visitors.
Despite that result, the Canadiens still went on to be one of the NHL’s top teams in December, following up the loss with a 6-4 win over a tough Carolina Hurricanes squad.
Tale of the Tape
|54.4% (4th)||Corsi-for pct.||50.5% (12th)|
|3.07 (12th)||Goals per game||2.95 (17th)|
|3.14 (22nd)||Goals against per game||2.83 (11th)|
|13.0% (30th)||PP%||22.4% (9th)|
|77.8% (23rd)||PK%||84.7% (3rd)|
Tonight Montreal is both looking to make up for that earlier road effort and also bounce back from a 4-1 loss on Saturday night to the Nashville Predators. That most recent loss was the latest case of falling behind in a game to a good defensive team and not being able to score their way out. They have rather perfect win percentages of .667 when scoring the first goal and .333 when surrendering it, so a good start is always a key.
The Canadiens have netted the first goal in 24 of their games, and it’s typically been either Max Domi or Tomas Tatar providing that all-important tally, combining for nine of them on the season. The two have amassed just two goals in the previous 12 games dating back to the loss in Minnesota, both of those scored by Tatar versus the Florida Panthers (one of them the 1-0 goal) on December 28.
Carey Price should be in goal tonight, after only seeing a few minutes of action in relief during the game in Minnesota, stopping the nine shots directed toward him. He’ll be just as eager as the rest of his team to put Saturday’s 4-1 decision behind with a good win tonight, and with the way he’s been playing it recent weeks he should be equal to that challenge.
Montreal may have treated the 7-1 decision as a small wave in otherwise smooth waters, but things got quite choppy for the Wild, winning one more game and then scoring three goals just a single time in the seven games that followed. A trip through the Atlantic Division is helping to correct their course, with 4-3 wins over both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators, so they arrive in Montreal feeling good about their game once more.
Jared Spurgeon has been doing his best Jordie Benn impression in 2019, leading the way with three even-strength goals and two assists in the trip through Ontario. It’s a critical bit of production for a team that sits in the middle of the pack for offence.
Zach Parise is on a three-game goal-scoring streak, and the Wild are seeing production from one of the franchise’s biggest acquisitions that hasn’t been on display since his New Jersey Devils days. After several difficult years dealing with injuries, he’s contributing right around a point-per-game pace, which he hasn’t achieved in nearly 10 years. It’s good news for the Wild franchise, even better news for the 34-year-old’s career, and a focal point for the Canadiens in the final game of their homestand this evening.