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Game preview: MTL @ ANA

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

CANADIENS (34-22-7) vs. DUCKS (43-14-5)

On Wednesday night, the Habs will face off against the Anaheim Ducks, the top-ranked team in the NHL.

The Canadiens are coming off a 2-1 loss against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday, their first regulation loss since February 2. In the absence of Carey Price, Michel Therrien’s troops played a tight-checking, low-event game, conceding only 22 shots to the usually trigger-happy Kings while putting 18 shots on net. Jake Muzzin scored in the early going before P.K. Subban tied the game at one with his tenth of the year. Jeff Carter scored the game-winner on a powerplay in the third period.

The previous evening, the Ducks won 5-3 against the Carolina Hurricanes. In stark contrast to the Habs-Kings match-up, this contest featured 86 combined shots on goal. Ducks netminder Frederik Andersen put up a miraculous .942 save percentage despite facing 52 shots. Meanwhile, Cam Ward allowed five goals on 34 shots. Corey Perry led the offensive charge for the Ducks, notching two goals, one assist and five shots on net.

Bruce Boudreau’s Ducks have lit up the NHL so far this season, putting up a +52 goal differential over the league average. Not only is Anaheim having no trouble putting the puck in opposing nets (202 goals for, second in the NHL), SoCal’s first Stanley Cup-winning franchise has also been stingy defensively, only allowing more goals than four other teams in the league. However, in the past ten games, the team is a lukewarm 6-4, scoring 25 goals while conceding 21.

What makes Anaheim so dangerous is their mix of top-end talent and quality depth players. With promising youngster Frederik Andersen sharing the crease with former All-Star Jonas Hiller, the Ducks have one of the best goaltending duos on the planet. While their top offensive line is stacked with Olympic gold medalists Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks’ can also count on young forwards such as Kyle Palmieri and grizzled veterans Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne, playing in the bottom six, to dominate their counterparts in limited minutes. From the back-end, Cam Fowler and Francois Beauchemin are adept at directing traffic in all situations.

Mathieu Perreault may return to the Ducks line-up on Wednesday. He is listed as questionable with an upper-body injury. Newly-acquired Stephane Robidas is still recovering from a leg injury and is weeks away from a comeback.

Dustin Tokarski will make his first-ever start in goal for the Canadiens. Newly-acquired Mike Weaver will not suit up.

Wednesday’s game will be the second of two season meetings between the Canadiens and the Ducks. The Canadiens won the teams’ last meeting, a 4-1 decision at the Bell Centre played on October 24 2013.

Puck drop will be at 10:00 PM E.S.T.

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