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Streaking Wild open up road trip vs. Canadiens
(SportsNetwork.com) - Josh Harding and the Minnesota Wild will try to stay hot on Tuesday when they begin a four-game road trip by battling the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
The Wild enter Tuesday having won four straight tilts and are boasting a 7-0-1 record so far in November. Minnesota also has lost just once in regulation over its past 13 games, going 10-1-2 during that stretch.
Minnesota recorded its three most recent wins on home ice, where the club is 10-1-2 on the season. The club is just 3-3-2 as the guest in 2013-14, but the Wild can get over .500 on the road during this trek, which also features stops in Ottawa, Winnipeg and St. Louis.
The Wild went 3-0 on their recent homestand thanks in large part to the play of Harding between the pipes. The netminder went 3-0 with a 1.38 goals-against average and .939 save percentage during the residency and was named the NHL's Third Star for the week ending Nov. 17.
Harding earned the win for the Wild on Sunday, as they notched a 2-1 regulation decision against the Winnipeg Jets. Mikko Koivu's second goal of the game, which came with 3:12 remaining in the third period, proved to be the difference for Minnesota.
With time winding down and the game tied, Charlie Coyle won a battle for the puck in the corner and sent a pass to the left circle for Koivu, who beat Ondrej Pavelec to the short side for the eventual game-winner.
Harding took care of the rest and finished with 21 saves for the Wild.
"We're pretty confident when he's in net and when he sees the puck, he's gonna stop it," Minnesota forward Zach Parise said about Harding.
With Niklas Backstrom out indefinitely with a concussion, Harding is currently the club's No. 1 option in net. He expects to get the start on Tuesday, while Darcy Kuemper could get the call tomorrow when Minnesota plays in Ottawa. Harding is 1-1-1 with a 2.68 GAA in three career outings against the Canadiens.
While Minnesota takes aim at its eighth win of November, the Canadiens will try to post just their third victory in nine games this month.
Montreal had won two of three outings heading into Saturday's home test against the New York Rangers, but dropped a 1-0 decision to the visiting Blueshirts. Cam Talbot stopped all 22 shots he faced to post his first career shutout in New York's close win at the Bell Centre.
Ryan Callahan's power-play goal in the second period stood as the winning margin for the Rangers. Carey Price made 33 saves for the Habs, who have dropped six of their last eight.
"I don't want to make any excuses, but we all played very hard. My guys played very good defensive hockey tonight," Price admitted. "The goal was deflected, but the guys are letting me see the puck, and that's part of a solid defensive game."
Saturday's setback dropped the Canadiens to 5-5-2 as the host this season.
Montreal is 3-2-0 with a tie in its six all-time home games against the Wild. The Habs have won four of the past six encounters versus Minnesota overall.
11/19 10:59:55 ET