CALGARY - The Canadiens make their first visit of the season to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday night.
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Here's everything you need to know heading into the game:
After the way things played out in the series opener against the Canucks on Monday, interim head coach Dominique Ducharme's contingent was clearly motivated for the rematch at Rogers Arena on Wednesday. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Corey Perry, Shea Weber, Jeff Petry and Phillip Danault scored for Montreal in a 5-1 victory. It was the Canadiens' third win in their last five games, and they've now collected at least one point in six consecutive contests. Goaltender Carey Price registered his eighth win of the season with a 23-save effort. The Habs, meanwhile, peppered Canucks starter Thatcher Demko with 45 shots in a dominant performance on road ice.
Defenseman Ben Chiarot, meanwhile, was forced to leave the game after a first-period fight with Canucks forward J.T. Miller.
Mr. Consistent: Petry continues to cement his place among the best defensemen in the League. He now leads all blueliners with 10 goals on the year after beating Demko with a perfectly placed wrist shot in the third period. That extended the 33-year-old Michigan State University product's goal streak to three straight games and his point streak to five in the process. Petry leads the Canadiens with 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) in 25 games, one point clear of right-winger Tyler Toffoli. He also sits tied for second in the NHL among defensemen in that category alongside Vancouver's Quinn Hughes, one point back of Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman.
Back in the groove: It appears that Kotkaniemi is benefiting from the change of voice behind the bench. In seven games under Ducharme, the 20-year-old Finn has amassed 6 points (1 goal, 5 assists), including his first-period marker on Wednesday night that snapped an eight-game goal drought. It was Kotkaniemi's first tally since February 20 against Toronto. Prior to Ducharme taking the reins, the former third-overall selection managed to collect eight points (2 goals, 6 assists) in 18 games, so he's clearly trending in the right direction offensively. Interestingly enough, Kotkaniemi has put up more points (9) against Vancouver than any other team during his two-plus seasons in the NHL.
Taking turns: Goaltender Jake Allen starts for the Canadiens as they wrap up a back-to-back. It'll be his 10th start of the season and his first since March 4 against the Winnipeg Jets at the Bell Centre. The 30-year-old Fredericton, NB native is trying to snap a four-game winless streak. Unfortunately, his last three outings have each resulted in OT losses. Allen was solid against the Flames earlier this season, giving up just one goal on 32 shots in a 2-0 defeat in Montreal on January 30. He owns a 4-2-3 record on the year, along with a 2.31 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. It's the 299th game of Allen's career.
At the other end
There was quite a shakeup in Flames country last week when Geoff Ward was relieved of his duties behind the bench and replaced by veteran Darryl Sutter. This marks Sutter's second go-around with Calgary, having previously served as head coach and general manager. He helmed the Flames squad that reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2004 where they eventually fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games.
The 62-year-old Viking, AB native will coach his first game with the Flames tonight. Assistant coach Ryan Huska was the man in charge for the last two games because of the League's COVID-19 protocols. Calgary is still seeking its first win since Ward's departure after being edged 3-2 by the Oilers in Edmonton on Saturday and 4-3 in a shootout by the Senators on Sunday at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Sutter has two Stanley Cup titles on his resume as a head coach, having led the Los Angeles Kings to championships in 2012 and 2014.
Here's Johnny: Left-winger Johnny Gaudreau reached the double-digit mark in goals for the seventh straight season over the weekend. The 27-year-old Salem, NJ native, who scored once against Edmonton and once against Ottawa, boasts a team-leading 11 goals in 26 appearances so far this year. One of those markers just happened to be the game-winner against the Canadiens on January 30 in a 2-0 victory at the Bell Centre. Gaudreau also sits tied for the team lead in points with 23 alongside centerman Elias Lindholm. He is currently riding a three-game point streak and has 15 points (3 goals, 12 assists) in 14 career games versus Montreal.
Never a dull moment: Like his younger brother, Brady, left-winger Matthew Tkachuk has a knack for making things happen whenever he's on the ice and finding ways to disrupt the opposition. It's no surprise that he leads the Flames with 28 penalty minutes and 84 hits this season, but he can put up his fair share of points as well. In fact, the 23-year-old former OHL standout ranks second in that department behind Gaudreau and Lindholm with 21 points (7 goals, 14 assists) in 26 games. Tkachuk, who has five helpers in his last three outings, boasts 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in nine career games against the Canadiens.
Stingy Swede: When the Canadiens and Flames last met in late January, goaltender Jacob Markstrom stopped all 37 shots he faced to register his second shutout of the year. Markstrom, who just returned from an upper-body injury that sidelined him for two weeks, is coming off back-to-back starts on Saturday and Sunday. The 30-year-old Swede surrendered six goals on 55 total shots. Markstrom has made 17 starts this season, compiling an 8-7-2 record, along with a 2.88 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage.
Here are a few key stats from the two previous meetings between Montreal and Calgary earlier this season:
|MONTREAL || ||CALGARY |
|1-1-0 ||Record ||1-1-0 |
|4 ||Goals ||4 |
|58 ||Shots on goal ||58 |
|25% ||PP% ||20% |
|80% ||PK% ||75% |
Puck drop is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. ET. You can watch the game on Sportsnet West, TSN2 and RDS, and listen to all the action on TSN Radio 690 and 98,5 fm.