WILD (7-5-0) @ CANADIENS (9-4-1)
The Minnesota Wild visit the Bell Centre on a very special Saturday night as the Canadiens get set to retire the jersey of Guy Lapointe. One of the most prolific defensemen in Habs history, Lapointe played 14 seasons with the Canadiens. He later joined the expansion Minnesota Wild in 1999 and is currently the team’s Director of Amateur Scouting.
Saturday marks the first of a four-game set at home for the Habs, who are coming off a 2-1 shootout win in Buffalo on Wednesday, in which Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau scored his third game-deciding goal of the season in the tie-breaker.
Injured against the Sabres, Michael Bournival will be out of the lineup on Saturday, forcing head coach Michel Therrien to tweak his roster against the Wild. Friday at practice, Travis Moen, Manny Malhotra, Dale Weise and Rene Bourque were rotating on the fourth line.
On offense, Parenteau was reunited with David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty on the first line, ahead of Tomas Plekanec, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher on the second, while Lars Eller centered the third line with Jiri Sekac and Brandon Prust.
Carey Price should be back in front of the net opposite Minnesota, while Thomas Vanek will be back at the Bell Centre for the first time since inking a three-year deal with the Wild over the summer, registering one goal and seven assists so far this season.
Zach Parise meanwhile, currently the scoring leader (4-6-10) in the Hockey State, did not make the trip to Montreal. Sidelined with an upper body injury, it is unknown when the 30-year-old winger will be back in action.
Coming off a pair of consecutive losses, including a 3-0 shutout in Ottawa on Thursday, Darcy Kuemper should get the start in goal against the Habs on Saturday. Kuemper's impressive 1.77 goals against average is currently good for fifth-best among NHL goaltenders.
Cumulatively, the Wild have have allowed just 25 goals in 12 games this season.
Last season, the Canadiens and the Wild split their two-game set, each winning once at home, with Pacioretty netting a hat trick in a 6-2 decision at the Bell Centre.