Detroit Red Wings at Canadiens: Five things you should know
|Montreal Gazette 14 Dec 2019 at 10:14|
The matchup: The Canadiens extended their win streak to three games with a 3-2 OT victory over the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. That completed a sweep of a back-to-back set after they defeated the Penguins 4-1 Tuesday in Pittsburgh. The Red Wings are coming off a 5-2 home win over Winnipeg on Thursday, but that was their first victory since Nov. 12 and ended a 12-game skid. The Wings (8-22-3) have the worst record in the NHL, but there’s no reason for the Canadiens to take them lightly because Detroit beat Montreal 4-2 in the home opener on Oct. 10.
Price back in top form: Carey Price is starting to play like an $84-million goaltender. He has allowed only one goal in each of his last two starts. His numbers are still not where they should be — he has a 2.95 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage — but they are trending in the right direction. Jonathan Bernier is in goal for the Wings after veteran Jimmy Howard suffered a groin injury. The Laval native is 6-9-2 with a 3.34 GAA and an .890 SP.
Canadiens’ Tomas Tatar celebrates his goal against the Boston Bruins during the first period on Nov. 5, 2019. Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette
Boring team is scoring goals: After the Canadiens beat Pittsburgh 4-1 Tuesday, Penguins owner Mario Lemieux talked about the Canadiens being a boring, defensive team. Obviously, the defence had to be good to keep the mighty Penguins to one goal, but the Canadiens are ninth in team offence with 3.19 goals a game, just a tick behind the Penguins (3.25). Montreal is being led by the top line of Tomas Tatar, Phil Danault and Brendan Gallagher. Tatar, who has two goals and an assist in the past two games and a team-best 28 points, is heading for another career season. Gallagher has a team-high 14 goals along with 26 points, while Danault has 25 points.
Medical updates: The Canadiens are getting good news on the injury front. Paul Byron, who has been out with a knee injury, practised on the fourth line Friday and could play against Detroit. And Jesperi Kotkaniemi , who has a concussion, skated on his own before practice Friday. Montreal is still missing Jonathan Drouin (wrist), Matthew Peca (knee) and Victor Mete (knee).
The other guys: The Dead Things have the worst offence in the NHL (2.18 goals per game) and they have a major hole in their lineup because Anthony Mantha is sidelined with a lower-body injury. He’s Detroit’s leading goals-scorer with 12. The top scorer for the Red Wings is Tyler Bertuzzi, who has 25 points, including 10 goals, while Dylan Larkin has eight goals and 20 points. The Red Wings’ special teams are a disaster. They rank last in penalty-killing (72.8 per cent) and 24th on the power play (16.2 per cent).