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Game Day - Predators - January 20

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Tuesday morning in preparation for their tilt against the Nashville Predators at the Bell Centre. Michel Therrien’s troops will be looking for their second straight win, while Nashville is coming off a 5-2 loss against the Red Wings on Saturday in Detroit. Interestingly enough, the Predators haven’t lost back-to-back games all season.

- After being sidelined for last Saturday night’s contest against the New York Islanders with a minor upper-body injury, Carey Price will be back between the pipes for the Canadiens on Tuesday night. Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed the news following the morning skate. It will be Price’s 36th start of the season. He is 1-3-0 in four career outings against Nashville, while also stringing together a 2.49 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage.

- The Canadiens bench boss also confirmed that while his lineup won’t feature any changes up front, there will be one change on the back end. Defenseman Tom Gilbert is in, while Mike Weaver will once again be a healthy scratch. Weaver had previously taken Gilbert’s spot in the lineup in the game against the Islanders.

- The Predators make their first visit to La Belle Province since October 2013 on Tuesday night. Peter Laviolette’s squad enters the game as the second-ranked club in the NHL standings, boasting four talented forward lines and a bevy of mobile defensemen. The Canadiens are well aware of Nashville’s capabilities at both ends of the rink, and they’ve got a healthy respect for the group that will offer up the team’s final test before the All-Star break.

“I think every team is a different challenge, but if you look where they are in the standings, you have to treat them exactly like that. They brought in a new coach this year. They’ve got some very good players on that side, and, like always, they’ve really concentrated on not allowing a lot, but they’ve also got guys who can put the puck in the net as well,” offered Brendan Gallagher, who is in the midst of a three-game points streak with three assists during that span. “They’ve been doing a good job at finding ways to get points, so we definitely want to defend our home ice. They’ve found a way to be successful on the road, so it’s going to be a challenge.”

That rings true even if the Predators won’t be featuring the likes of Pekka Rinne between the pipes on Tuesday night. Rinne is sidelined with a knee injury. Carter Hutton will likely get the start in goal for Nashville.

“We’ll take it. Any time Pekka Rinne isn’t in net, we’re happy with that. Obviously, he’s one of the best goalies in the league. He’s having a great year,” mentioned Dale Weise, who has registered more points against the Predators than any other NHL team over the course of his career with three goals and seven points in nine games. “But, Nashville’s always had good goaltenders. Their backups are good goaltenders. They’ve been good, too.”

So, just how significant would a win over the Predators be given their success through 44 games this year?

“It would be huge. This is one of the best teams in the Western Conference. This is kind of a weird game to play when you’re playing the last game before the All-Star break. It’s kind of a game that you’ve really got to be focused for,” stressed Weise, who has six goals and 16 points in 41 games in 2014-15. “This is a perfect team to be playing for that.”

- Carey Price’s return to active duty means that he should be making the trip to Columbus later on this week to take part in the 2015 NHL All-Star Game. It will be his fourth trip to the mid-season tilt, and head coach Michel Therrien couldn’t be happier to see the 27-year-old travel to Ohio to suit up alongside some of the league’s top players.

“It will be a good experience for him. We’re very happy that a guy like Carey was chosen to attend. It’s a great experience. The guys meet up with one another. I don’t have anything against it. It’s a part of where he is in his career. He’s an elite goaltender and a role model for a lot of players,” offered Therrien, whose squad will also be represented by young gun Jiri Sekac during the All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday night at Nationwide Arena. “It’s a part of his responsibilities and he’s taken them on well. It’s good for him. It’s good for the organization. We consider ourselves very lucky to have a person like Carey Price representing the Montreal Canadiens.”

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet East.

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