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Double-trouble weekend coming up

The Habs face a big test with a back-to-back set on the road in St. Louis and Minnesota

by Dan Braverman @CanadiensMTL /

BROSSARD - The Habs had plenty of fond memories to look back on from their 4-0 win over the Minnesota Wild, but their eyes were firmly fixed ahead on Friday as they prepared for a busy weekend on the road.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: .@vmete98 ��chauffe ses mains de marqueur.Victor Mete's keeping his scoring hands loose.#GoHabsGo

The Canadiens have a rematch with the Stanley Cup champions on Saturday in St. Louis before taking on the Wild on Sunday in Minnesota, and they know they're in for a challenge with two games in as many days on the agenda.

"It's going to be tough. They are both big and heavy teams," admitted Tomas Tatar, who finished with a plus-2 differential in 14:26 of ice time against Minnesota on Thursday. "We just have to stick to our plan. When we play our game, we're a pretty fast team and we play well."

Montreal may have dropped its Tuesday night game at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but that was sandwiched between two strong performances against the two teams the team will be facing this weekend and the Canadiens are optimistic about their upcoming road trip.

"We were really happy with both games. We we played hard, we played fast, and we played better defensively than the previous games," added Tatar, whose team allowed just 17 shots on goaltender Carey Price against the Wild. "That's what we want our game plan to be for every game.

Video: Tomas Tatar on a tough two-game road trip coming up

The Habs' special teams once again played a part, as they scored a 5-on-3 power play goal and held the Wild to just five total shots on five power play opportunities, successfully killing off each and every one of their penalties.

Forward Nate Thompson believes his group's success while down a man was a result of good teamwork and synergy.

"Guys were on the same page; I thought we really really did a good job of communicating on the ice," outlined Thompson, who saw 3:40 of shorthanded ice time against Minnesota. "Guys were talking, being aggressive when we were supposed to, being passive and patient when we had to. And Pricey made big saves; that's how you kill penalties."

Byron wants to get going

Elsewhere in the room, forward Paul Byron was looking for answers to explain a lower-than-desired offensive output to start the season. The 10-year veteran may not be thrilled with his production thus far - he has one assist in seven games - but he knows he just has to keep putting his not-so-secret weapon to work in order to see better results on the scoresheet.

"I'm one of the fastest guys in the NHL," affirmed Byron. "I have to find a way to use my speed to make an impact on the game."

Head coach Claude Julien wasn't too concerned, however, reminding reporters of the adversity the Ottawa native faced in 2018-19 and noting that he's already seen signs of improvement from his alternate captain.

"With what happened to him last year, he didn't finish the season. He also missed exhibition games during training camp. For sure, he's having a bit of a slower start than he would've liked, but we were expecting it," said the coach. "I'm seeing him come back slowly. It's a positive sign. Paul has always been hard on himself. I've known him a few years and that's who he is."

Video: Claude Julien's press conference

All's well with Kinkaid

In his post-practice press conference, Julien told the media that he'd be using both his goaltenders on the back-to-back set, but didn't specify who would start against the Blues.

His plans almost hit a snag when backup Keith Kinkaid left the ice with what appeared to be a hand injury, although the American netminder returned to practice not long after and told reporters he was perfectly healthy and ready to go.

Kinkaid knows his job comes with some inherent risks, although it seems he might be taking things a bit too personally.

"They're always shooting pucks at me. I don't get it," he cracked. "I don't know what I did to them."

Video: Keith Kinkaid on his hand

The Habs left immediately after practice for St. Louis ahead of their Saturday game against the Blues, which gets going at 3:00 p.m. ET at the Enterprise Center.

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