RANGERS (8-6-2) at CANADIENS (11-4-2)
TV: CBC, RDS, MSG
Last 10: New York 5-3-2, Montreal 6-2-2.
Season series: This is the second of three meetings between the clubs. The Canadiens defeated the Rangers 3-1 at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.
Big story: The Rangers and Canadiens meet for the second time this week, with the backdrop of a Rangers team missing Rick Nash and possibly Michael Del Zotto, while the Canadiens should be welcoming back Brendan Gallagher from injury.
Rangers: The Rangers are coming off two straight losses, to the Canadiens in regulation at home and to the Senators at Ottawa in a shootout Thursday. Overall, the Rangers have one win in their last four games, three of which were played without Nash in the lineup as he recovers from a mystery ailment the team has yet to shed any light on.
The potential loss of Del Zotto would make the Rangers task even more difficult. Defenseman Steve Eminger was called up from the American Hockey League's Connecticut Whale just in case.
"I thought we played better, but we're still not where we need to be," captain Ryan Callahan said Thursday following the shootout loss in Ottawa. "I thought it was sporadic at times, but our third period was great. But we got into penalty trouble, and that's how this League is. But you have to be happy how the way we responded, and that's what we have to take into Montreal."
Canadiens: If the Canadiens hadn't heard themselves what the Rangers said about them following their game at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, they were certainly told about it by the media.
Rangers coach John Tortorella said following the game Tuesday that it was between two bad teams, just that the Canadiens were the better of the two. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist also called the Canadiens boring, which appeared to cause an uproar among Montreal fans.
One can imagine those fans will voice their displeasure at Bell Centre on Saturday night, but the players didn't appear to be losing much sleep over it.
"I think they saw us on the second night of a back to back with travel and terrible ice conditions," forward Erik Cole said. "I think we played a smart road game. So you can call it boring or call it whatever - I call it two points."
Cole may be the one paying the price for the return of Gallagher to the lineup, as he was on Montreal's third line with Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk at Friday's practice, while Gallagher was on right wing with Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais.
Who's hot: For the Rangers, Derek Stepan has points in three straight games and has four points in his last five games. In spite of two straight losses, Lundqvist has allowed just five goals in his last three games, posting a .939 save percentage over that span. … For the Canadiens, Pacioretty has goals in three straight games, including two in Thursday's 4-3 overtime loss to the new York Islanders, and he has four goals and three assists in his last four games. Desharnais, his center, has a goal and four assists over those four games.
Injury report: Aside from Nash and potentially Del Zotto, forward Darroll Powe and defenseman Michael Sauer are on injured reserve for the Rangers…With the anticipated return of Gallagher, the Canadiens should be missing only center Petteri Nokelainen (back), who is on injured reserve. However, forward Brandon Prust missed practice on Friday and coach Michel Therrien could not confirm that the former Ranger would play Saturday.
|M. Del Zotto||16||2||5||7||+4||8||0||0|