Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens-Predators game at Bridgestone Arena Saturday (7 p.m., SNE, City, TVA Sports, TSN-690 Radio, 98.5 FM).
The matchup: This is the second of two meetings between these teams this season and the Canadiens have the edge after beating the Predators 6-3 at the Bell Centre on Nov. 20. Ryan Poehling scored his first two goals of the season in that game. It’s one of only six wins this season for Montreal, who are seventh in the Atlantic Division with a 6-17-2 record. The Canadiens are on a two-game losing streak after dropping a 4-1 decision at home to Colorado on Thursday. The Predators, who are within hailing distance of a playoff spot in the Central Division with a 12-10-1 record, lost to Boston 2-0 at home on Thursday.
The goaltenders: Carey Price was on the ice Friday morning working with goaltender coach Eric Raymond, but it didn’t appear that he is close rejoining the team. That means Jake Allen will continue in the iron man role. Allen has given up eight goals in his last three starts, but he lost two of those games because the Canadiens didn’t give him any offensive support. He has a 5-11-1 record with a 2.96 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage. Juuse Saros, who is one of the shortest goalies in the NHL at 5-foot-11, is 10-8-1 on the season with a 2.34 GAA and a .923 save percentage.
Petry joins injured list: The Canadiens headed to Nashville Friday without defenceman Jeff Petry. He has averaged more than 23 minutes a game, but he has struggled this season and it’s widely believed he has been playing through a nagging injury. He’s the fourth player the Canadiens have lost this week. Brendan Gallagher and defenceman Sami Niku both tested positive for COVID-19 and are in quarantine for 10 days. Josh Anderson, the team’s top goal-scorer, suffered an upper-body injury Thursday and the team said he will be out of action for two to four weeks. The Canadiens have called up defenceman Corey Schueneman from the Laval Rocket. Normally, Xavier Ouellet would be the next man up, but he’s injured.
The numbers are depressing: Going into this season, the Canadiens knew they were going to struggle on defence without Carey Price, Shea Weber and Phil Danault, but they were hoping to compensate with a quick team bolstered by some added firepower. It hasn’t worked out that well.
Sniper Mile Hoffman has been sidelined with back problems and Cole Caufield, who was touted as a rookie of the year favourite, struggled and spent some time in Laval. The offensive frustration is reflected in the statistics. The Canadiens rank 29th in goals per game, with 2.24, and the power play ranks 28th, with a success rate of 13 per cent.
Duchene, Granlund lead Predators: Matt Duchene has regained his scoring touch in Nashville. He leads the Predators in goals with 13, including a natural hat trick against the Canadiens. He has 17 points — six goals and 11 assists — in 20 career games against Montreal. The Predators’ leading scorer is Mikael Granlund with five goals and 25 points, one more than Duchene. Roman Josi, who is the front-runner for the Norris Trophy in an nhl.com poll released Friday, has seven goals and 20 points, while Filip Forsberg has 10 goals. Nashville has picked up at least a point in 15 of its last 17 meetings with Montreal (11-2-4) and has only lost twice in regulation since Jan. 15, 2009. The Predators are 7-4-1 against Montreal at home.
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