NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Sunday, March 20th
(All times eastern)
Montreal Canadiens (39-26-7) at Minnesota Wild (35-29-8), 6 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens will try to bounce back from a
lopsided loss when they visit the Minnesota Wild today at Xcel Energy
Montreal, which trails Boston by three points for the Northeast Division lead,
surrendered five goals in the first period on Friday en route to a 6-3 road
loss against the New York Rangers.
The poor performance allowed New York to pull within five points of Montreal
for the East's sixth seed. The Rangers are also in action today against the
Carey Price was shelled for five goals on 12 shots on Friday before being
pulled late in the first. Alex Auld stopped 18-of-19 shots the rest of way.
Price, who is 2-0 with a 2.05 goals-against average in his career against
Minnesota, is expected to get the start today.
James Wisniewski and Brian Gionta each had a goal and an assist while P.K.
Subban also scored for the Canadiens, who came into Friday's contest having
won seven of their last nine.
"I think you can count the first period as us coming off the plane and not
being ready to play," said Wisniewski. "But you can't use that as an excuse
cause we're professionals. They're fighting for a playoff spot same as we
Montreal has played the last two games without defenseman Hal Gill (flu) and
forwards Jeff Halpern (lower body) and Tomas Plekanec (lower body). The trio
is questionable for today's game, as is defenseman Brent Sopel, who has sat
out the last five tests with an injured left hand.
The Canadiens have lost two of their last three games on the road and are
17-17-1 as the guest this year.
Minnesota, meanwhile, has lost five straight games and has fallen six points
out of a playoff spot in the West. The Wild are seeded 11th in the conference
and have 10 games left to try and get into the West's top eight seeds.
After dropping four straight in regulation, the Wild picked up a point in
Saturday's overtime loss to visiting Columbus. Antoine Vermette capitalized on
a turnover to score in the final minute of overtime, lifting the Blue Jackets
to the 5-4 victory at Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild had scored twice late in the third to force an extra period, and
acted as the aggressor for most of overtime. But following a left-circle
faceoff in the Minnesota zone, Wild defenseman Brent Burns turned the puck
over in front of the crease, and Vermette was there to net the game-winner
with 34 seconds left.
"Feel pretty bad," Burns said. "Guys fought back. We needed the points. It
doesn't feel too good."
Niklas Backstrom made 28 saves for the Wild and could get the start again
today. Wild goaltender Jose Theodore has been battling the flu, but the
illness has not stopped him from serving as Backstrom's backup in recent
Tonight marks the second portion of a four-game homestand for the Wild, who
are 17-13-5 as the host this season.
The Wild posted a 3-1 win in Montreal last season to snap a two-game slide in
this series. The Canadiens have taken three of the last five meetings with
Minnesota overall and have won two of their last three in St. Paul.
03/20 10:45:24 ET