CANADIENS (24-11-2) @ DEVILS (13-19-7)
The Canadiens closed out 2014 on a high note and will be looking to kick off the New Year in similar fashion against the Devils in New Jersey.
The Habs roll into the Prudential Center riding a four-game win streak after knocking off the Panthers on December 30 in dramatic fashion, with P-A Parenteau playing the shootout hero for a fourth time this season. The 31-year-old winger now leads the league in shootout deciding goals.
Brendan Gallagher was the only Hab to beat Roberto Luongo during regulation time in Sunrise, while Dustin Tokarski earned his fourth win of the season with a 36-save performance.
Carey Price will be back between the pipes on Friday and will be suiting up for his 400th career NHL game. Prior to Tokarski’s start against Florida, Price had played 11 consecutive games, allowing two or fewer goals in seven of those outings.
The Devils have dropped two of their last three games since head coach Peter DeBoer was let go on Boxing Day. DeBoer was replaced by Scott Stevens and Adam Oates, who will split coaching duties for the remainder of the season, and the pair of former NHLers will be joined behind the bench in the short term by GM Lou Lamoriello. The Devils have had a tough start to the campaign and are currently sitting seventh in the Metropolitan division, one spot ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes.
New Jersey will be without the services of forwards Michael Ryder and Patrik Elias, who are suffering from the mumps and will not be available to play. Travis Zajac and Adam Larsson were diagnosed with the mumps earlier in the year, but both returned to action in mid-December.
The Habs will need to keep an eye on Jaromir Jagr and Marek Zidlicky, who are tied atop the Devils’ scoring leaderboard with 21 points apiece. The Canadiens will also look to shut down former Habs sharp shooter Michael Cammalleri, who leads New Jersey with 11 goals in just 27 games this season.
The Canadiens will play the first game of a back-to-back sequence on Friday, with a second game scheduled for Saturday night in Pittsburgh. Depending who gets the call between the pipes, Friday’s game could be a battle between two of the league’s busiest netminders. Cory Schneider leads all NHL goaltenders with 35 starts this season, while Carey Price sits sixth in that category with 30 games played in 2014-15.
This will mark the first of three games between the Habs and Devils this season. The Canadiens came out on the winning end of two of the three match ups between the two clubs in 2013-14.