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Canadiens @ Canucks: Game preview, start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch

The order of the day is more discipline for the Habs.

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Montreal Canadiens v Vancouver Canucks

Montreal Canadiens @ Vancouver Canucks

How to watch

Start time: **10:30 PM EST / 7:30 PM PST**
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Canucks region: Sportsnet Pacific

There were some similarities between the first game the Montreal Canadiens played versus the Vancouver Canucks nearly a month ago at the Bell Centre and the one on Saturday night in Edmonton. Nick Suzuki opened the scoring with a power-play goal in both, and Arber Xhekaj joined in with a goal as well. Like the game versus the Oilers, the Habs also dictated play at five-on-five in that game versus Vancouver, coasting to victory after getting out to a 4-0 lead.

Montreal couldn’t replicate the 5-2 result from that effort on November 9 because discipline was a major team-wide issue for them on Saturday. In the opening half of the second period, the Habs not only gave Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl near constant time on the man advantage but three separate five-on-three opportunities, and that quickly erased all the good work Montreal had done in the first period when the club held those players to a mere four shots.

Already in the bottom third of the league in terms of discipline heading into the game, the Habs now hold the third-highest number of penalty minutes per game in the NHL, at 12:35 per contest.

The penalty kill has been solid otherwise this season, ranked sixth before the second-period meltdown versus the most dangerous duo in the league. The Canadiens will need to rein themselves in and get back to their shot-blocking, lane-clogging ways if they want to hold off the Canucks and their seventh-ranked power play tonight in the season-series finale.

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistics Canucks
Canadiens Statistics Canucks
12-11-1 Record 10-12-3
46.0% (25th) Scoring-chances-for % 46.1% (25th)
2.79 (26th) Goals per game 3.36 (12th)
3.46 (23rd) Goals against per game 3.76 (30th)
17.8% (29th) PP% 26.4% (7th)
79.8% (11th) PK% 67.5% (29th)
1-0-0 H2H Record 0-0-1

J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes, and Bo Horvat lead the man advantage with double-digit point totals. The power play is seeing some inconsistency after steady production to start the year, with no goals in five of the last seven games, but they also have three- and two-goal nights mixed in over that stretch. The power play has the ability to strike at any time, and the key will be to reduce its opportunities to go to work.

Elias Pettersson is just back of that group in terms of power-play points, but he’s been making his mark at five-on-five. After a relatively slow start to the season, he took off in the month of November, now leading the Canucks in points and ranking 18th in the Art Ross race with 29 points.

With Horvat and Miller carrying things on the top line while Pettersson feasts on the second, the Canucks began to see better results. Winless through their first seven games of the year, they’ve gone 10-7-1 since, and are currently one of the hottest teams in the Pacific Division (though that is a relative term in a grouping featuring two teams with a positive goal differential).

The last week in Canucks news was dominated by two developments. First is a long-term injury for goaltender Thatcher Demko, who was forced to leave a game versus the Boston Bruins on December 1 after being peppered by 18 shots and beaten for three goals in the opening period. But it has been Spencer Martin backing the resurgence, responsible for seven of the team’s 10 wins and failing to earn a point in just two of his starts. His .901 save percentage isn’t going to put him in the Vezina Trophy conversation, but the Canucks just need to allow fewer goals than their stars can generate, and so far he’s been delivering on that front.

The second major story is a report that Brock Boeser is actively being shopped by the team. He’s still on pace for a career-high 60 points, recently seeing a nine-game point streak come to an end, but he was going to be a healthy scratch on Saturday before an injury required him to participate, so something is clearly wrong with his situation in Vancouver, and having no spot in the team’s top six is likely part of that. It’s a distraction that threatens to derail what the Canucks have been doing in recent weeks, and with news that he’s free to speak to other teams about a move, it seems the organization is in a rush to get the situation resolved.

Despite the good run of victories, local observers have noticed the overall quality of the team’s play dropping over the past week. It’s not a club built for five-on-five play despite Pettersson’s performance in that situation, and that’s a difficult thing to overcome. Vancouver is a team that can be broken by pressure at even strength, so it’s not out of the question that the Canadiens can get out to another quick start as they did the last time the two teams met.