Original Six rivals clash as Wings face Canadiens
Saturday, 11.21.2009 / 7:00 PM
RED WINGS (10-6-4) at CANADIENS (11-11-0)
Last 10: Detroit 6-2-2; Montreal 5-5-0
Season series: These Original Six rivals are meeting for the only time in the 2009-10 season. Montreal paid a visit to Joe Louis Arena the night before Thanksgiving last season and beat Detroit 3-1 on the strength of three second-period goals, including the winner by Tomas Plekanec. Carey Price made 32 saves and was less than seven minutes from a shutout before Johan Franzen scored.
Big Story: It's been an up-and-down first quarter of the season for the Habs, who sit fourth in the Northeast Division, but only four points behind first-place Buffalo. They'll be shooting for a sweep of a back-to-back, coming off an impressive 3-2 win Friday in Washington.
The Red Wings, accustomed to finding themselves atop the Central, are currently in third and also four points in back of division-leading Chicago. They hit the road for a pair after losing consecutive games at home for the first time this season, 3-1 to Dallas on Wednesday and 2-1 in overtime to Florida on Friday.
Red Wings: It wasn't for a lack of effort that Detroit lost its last game – the Red Wings put 40 shots on goal against Florida only to have Scott Clemmensen turn aside 39 of them. Only Pavel Datsyuk solved him on a power play late in the second period. Coach Mike Babcock seemed to accept it was just one of those nights where a goalie standing on his head made the difference between getting two points as opposed to just one.
"We had more than enough chances," Babcock said. "We didn't have much puck luck."
Canadiens: Sometimes less is more, as Montreal proved in winning its second in a row. The Canadiens trailed the Capitals 1-0 after the first period despite registering 14 shots on goals. Over the next two periods they added just eight more shots, but three of them went into the net. Mike Cammalleri's power-play goal with 7:31 remaining gave them a 3-1 lead and they held off a furious charge by the home team in the final minutes to prevail.
"The last 3½ minutes were kind of hectic," coach Jacques Martin said. "But up to that point I felt we were managing the game well."
Who's Hot: Henrik Zetterberg assisted on Datsyuk's goal Friday to extend his points streak to five games. He's put up 11 points (five goals, six assists) over that span.
Montreal's leading scorer, Tomas Plekanec, has a goal and six assists in his last four games. Goaltender Carey Price has won consecutive starts and three of his last four, giving up just two goals in each game and compiling an impressive .943 save percentage.
Injury Report: Detroit is missing forwards Valtteri Filppula (wrist), Jason Williams (leg) and Johan Franzen (knee) and defenseman Andreas Lilja (concussion).
On the plus side, Montreal got defenseman Ryan O'Byrne and forward Georges Laraque back against Washington after lengthy injury absences. Unfortunately, they lost forwards Scott Gomez (lower-body injury) and Travis Moen (undisclosed), both of whom will be evaluated Saturday. Forwards Brian Gionta (foot) and Matt D’Agostini (concussion) and defensemen Hal Gill (foot) and Andrei Markov (ankle) are already out of the lineup.
Stat Pack: The Canadiens went 1-for-2 on the power play against the Capitals. They've gone a dozen games now without drawing more than four power plays.
Puck Drop: Eight of the 26 teams in action Saturday also played about 24 hours earlier, and this is the only matchup in which both played the previous night. Both teams had to do some traveling to reach the Bell Centre, so whatever ends up determining this game, it shouldn't be a matter of one team being fresher than the other.