How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet East, CityTV (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the US: NHL Network
In the Red Wings region: Fox Sports Detroit
Streaming: NHL.tv/NHL Live
While the Montreal Canadiens were mired in their eight-game losing streak, the Detroit Red Wings were faring even worse. Their run hit 12 games without a point, and saw 10 consecutive regulation losses from November 19 to December 10.
Both teams have since broken those streaks of futility. The Red Wings got revenge for a 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets by defeating them by a 5-2 score on Thursday night; the first time they scored five goals since the opening game of the season.
The Canadiens’ run of form has been going on for some time. Their fortunes began to turn the corner on November 30. They lost that game and one the next day, but have put together four wins in the five games since, currently on their third three-game winning streak of the season.
Tonight will be the final time in the 2019 calendar year that the Habs play in front of their Bell Centre crowd. A visit to all four Canadian teams in the Western Conference is on the pre-holiday schedule after this game, then a three-game excursion through the Southern United States wraps things up before the new year. A win tonight gets them a good sendoff from the home crowd, and their best string of results of the 2019-20 campaign.
Tale of the Tape
|53.4% (3rd)||Corsi-for pct.||47.8% (27th)|
|3.19 (9th)||Goals per game||2.18 (31st)|
|3.25 (26th)||Goals against per game||3.94 (31st)|
|20.2% (13th)||PP%||16.2% (24th)|
|76.0% (28th)||PK%||72.8% (31st)|
Getting the streak to three wasn’t easy for Montreal. As they have all season long, the Ottawa Senators put up a good fight on Wednesday in what was a second game in two nights for the Habs.
The Canadiens had some difficulty dealing with the Senators’ pressure, especially in the third period. Ottawa managed to get two goals in the final frame, but that’s all Cayden Primeau allowed on the 37 shots he faced in his second NHL start, and got his first win when Ben Chiarot netted a goal in overtime.
Throughout the Red Wings’ losing stream, it was recent acquisition Robby Fabbri who led the team in scoring, doubling the next-best producers with four goals. He then potted two goals in the win on Thursday night, including the eventual game-winner, claiming first-star honours with a three-point night. He now has eight goals in the 16 games since the trade from the St. Louis Blues.
Also having a big night was Filip Zadina, directly setting up both of Fabbri’s goals and scoring one himself on a power play. It was a difficult run for the Czech winger from before the draft in 2018 to this year, but he comes in to Montreal with six points in his past five games. He said of the Canadiens when they passed over him, the player largely considered the number-three prospect available, that he would make it his mission to “fill their nets with pucks,” and he may be finding his projected form in time to make an impact in what will be his third career game versus the Habs.
Montreal’s actual selection that year is getting closer to a return, but there’s no firm confirmation that Jesperi Kotkaniemi has fully recovered from the concussion sustained when he was flipped on his head by Nikita Zadorov last Thursday.
Joining Kotkaniemi in light skating drills was Victor Mete, whose original two-week timeframe is nearly at its end. Paul Byron is the injured player who appears to be the closest to a return. An original prognosis of a four-week recovery from knee surgery appears to have been correct, as he returned to practice yesterday.
The Canadiens are beginning to get back to the full group that started the year well, with Jonathan Drouin’s recovery the only one on the distant horizon. They’re also doing well to put a bad stretch of play behind them. That’s all good news as they get prepared for a difficult stretch to finish off the month.