Canadiens vs. Wild: Five things you should know
|Montreal Gazette 07 Jan 2019 at 09:39|
Rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi reached a milestone when he set up Shea Weber for the Canadiens’ only goal against Nashville on Saturday night. John Mahoney / Montreal Gazette
Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens -Wild game at the Bell Centre on Monday ().
The matchup: The Canadiens have slipped out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference after losing 4-1 to the Nashville Predators on Saturday at the Bell Centre, where they have an 11-8-3 record. They need a bounce-back game in this conclusion of a three-game home stand, but it won’t be easy. Although the Wild is also out of a playoff position in the Western Conference, Minnesota crushed the Canadiens 7-1 last month in St. Paul. The Wild is 4-5-1 in its last 10 games, but has two consecutive wins, including a 4-3 victory Saturday in Ottawa.
The puck stops here: This is the first of a back-to-back set for the Canadiens — they’re in Detroit on Tuesday night — and that means Claude Julien may be splitting the work for his goaltenders. But you can be certain Carey Price will start this game. He usually gets the starts at home and backup Antti Niemi was in the net for all seven goals in that blowout in Minnesota. Look for the Wild to counter with Devan Dubnyk, who was once a Canadiens farmhand. He has a 15-14-3 record this season with a 2.64 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.
Top players need to step up: Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin have been the Canadiens’ top scorers for most of this season, but their performances have tailed off over the past dozen games. Domi, who leads the team with 14 goals and 38 points, hasn’t scored a goal in 12 games, while linemate Drouin has three goals in that stretch and one of them was an empty-netter. Brendan Gallagher is the team’s leading goal-scorer with 15, but he has also hit a bit of a dry patch. He has scored only two goals in the last 13 games.
Kotkaniemi in good company: Rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi may have missed out on being part of Finland’s gold-medal team at the World Junior Championships, but he reached a milestone when he set up Shea Weber for the Canadiens’ only goal against Nashville. The assists gave Kotkaniemi 20 points for the season — four goals and 16 helpers — and he became the third Canadiens’ player to score 20 points before his 19th birthday. Mario Tremblay had 39 points, including 21 goals, in 63 games in 1974-75. Defenceman Petr Svoboda had three goals and 18 assists in 49 games in 1984-85.
Parise leads Wild to victories: Zach Parise and Mikaël Granlund share the Wild team scoring lead with 38 points each, but Parise has made the biggest impact of late. He has a five-game point streak with four goals and five assists and he has scored the game winner in both games as the Wild won the first two games on their current four-game road trip. He completed a 4-3 comeback win in Toronto on Thursday and his 19th goal was the winner in a 4-3 victory Saturday afternoon in Ottawa. Veteran Eric Staal has chipped in with 13 goals and 13 assists.