PREDATORS (30-10-4) @ CANADIENS (28-13-3)
The Habs host the Nashville Predators on Tuesday during both teams’ final tilt before the NHL All-Star break.
Arriving in Montreal with the stingiest defense in the league, Nashville has allowed an average of just 2.25 goals per game so far this season, giving up a total of just 99 goals since the 2014-15 season opener. The only team to still sit below 100 goals allowed, the Predators are also ranked second in the NHL with a goal differential of +34.
The Canadiens for their part have conceded 104 goals through 44 games this season, good for sixth in the NHL with an average of 2.36 goals allowed per game.
Pekka Rinne meanwhile – one of the keys to the Predators’ success this season – will miss a third game in a row after suffering an injury opposite the Vancouver Canucks last Tuesday. Prior to the setback, the Finnish netminder had been in goal for 29 of his team’s wins this season.
Replacing Rinne between the pipes on Friday, backup Carter Hutton picked up his first win of the season against the visiting Washington Capitals to start the weekend. On Saturday in Detroit however, the 29-year-old gave up three goals on the game’s first four shots, eventually getting pulled in favor on Marek Mazanec, who finished the game, leaving Tuesday’s starter to be confirmed.
Coming off a 6-4 offensive explosion against the visiting New York Islanders on Saturday – the Canadiens’ fourth six-goal outing this season – the team will be looking for another strong performance from its recently reshuffled forward lines on Tuesday.
Four players picked up at least two points each opposite the Isles, while Tomas Plekanec racked up four with two goals and a pair of assists.
Although Max Pacioretty saw his six-game goal streak come to an end on Saturday, the 26-year-old forward still managed to add a pair of helpers to his season totals, which now stand at 21 goals and 17 assists.
Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed on Tuesday that Carey Price will be back in goal against the Preds after missing Saturday’s game with an upper body injury. Therrien also confirmed that defenseman Tom Gilbert will take Mike Weaver’s spot on the blue line, rounding out the roster changes opposite the Preds.
Tuesday’s forward lines should remain identical to Saturday’s meanwhile, as Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau could be out of the lineup again with concussion-like symptoms.