Canadiens vs. Predators: Game preview, start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch

Montreal returns home for a primetime matchup with one of the Western Conference’s top teams.

The Montreal Canadiens will welcome P.K. Subban and the Nashville Predators to the Bell Centre tonight before hitting the road for a four-game swing. The Canadiens had a two-game winning streak snapped on Thursday, and face a tough test in their quest to start a new one.

The Canadiens were able to score three times in their previous match. Finding the back of the net has been less of an issue for the team than it was earlier in the season, thanks in part to the power play finally becoming a source of offence rather than just frustration. The team added another goal on the man advantage to make it a game late versus the Philadelphia Flyers when Brendan Gallagher tipped in his 19th of the year.

Artturi Lehkonen was able to notch his goal while the Habs were down a man, and now has three goals in two games after going 23 without one. The play involved his forechecking skills to hound the puck-carrier and get the takeaway as well his good shot that seemed in need of adjustment earlier in the year. The sophomore’s complete game will be relied upon to help contain the Predators tonight.

How to watch

Puck drop: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet 360, CityTV (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the US: NHL Network
In the Predators region: FS-TN
Elsewhere: GameCentre Live, NHL Center Ice

The Predators’ power play is among the top five in the league, with Subban and Filip Forsberg leading the charge with 18 points apiece. Forsberg, who will take part in his first game after serving a three-game suspension, has achieved that total in just 39 games played.

Despite the strong special-teams play, the Predators sit in the middle of the pack in goals per game. While their offence is more limited at five-on-five (17th in the NHL with 100 goals), the defence has been more than able to compensate (second in goals against, with 82 allowed).

It’s not about controlling games and preventing shots and scoring chances. The Predators rank behind the Canadiens in both categories, once more around the average in those statistics.

The biggest reason for their low goals allowed total has been the play of Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros. Both netminders sit among the top 11 in save percentage among goalies to play at least 10 games, at .926 and .924, respectively. It’s been the top goaltending duo in the league outside of Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin in Boston.

If the Canadiens are to head out on the road on a winning note, they will need to break down the wall in the Predators’ crease, and have a more disciplined approach than the one that allowed four power-play chances in their previous outing.

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