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MTL@VGK: Five things you need to know

The Canadiens will be looking for their third straight victory when they battle the Golden Knights in Las Vegas

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL /

LAS VEGAS - Here are five things you need to know ahead of Thursday night's matchup against the Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena.

1. The Canadiens opened their three-game road trip with a 4-1 win over the Coyotes on Wednesday night. Brendan Gallagher registered a goal in his 500th career NHL game. Captain Shea Weber, Nick Cousins and Jonathan Drouin also scored for Montreal, while Carey Price made 33 saves in between the pipes. Claude Julien's squad managed to find the back of the net early in each period versus Arizona. Gallagher's tally came just 22 seconds into the first period, Weber's at the 24-second mark of the middle frame, and Cousins' goal just 77 seconds into the final stanza. It really was a perfect start for the Habs during the current stretch away from the friendly confines of the Bell Centre.

Video: Weber, Price lead Canadiens past Coyotes, 4-1

2. When the Canadiens last visited Las Vegas in December 2018, Phillip Danault had himself quite a night. He scored the first hat trick of his NHL career. It was a natural hat trick, nonetheless, and Paul Byron scored the game-winning goal in the extra frame.

Video: Danault tallies hat trick in Canadiens' OT win

On Thursday afternoon, head coach Claude Julien confirmed that Keith Kinkaid will get the start in goal versus the Golden Knights. It marks his third start of the season, and his first since October 20 in Minnesota. Julien also confirmed that Jesperi Kotkaniemi wouldn't be in the lineup after aggravating a groin injury against Arizona. In Kotkaniemi's absence, Jordan Weal will play the wing on a line with Nate Thompson and Cousins. Meanwhile, Nick Suzuki will move to center on a line with Artturi Lehkonen and Byron.

3. Suzuki has been eagerly awaiting his opportunity to ply his trade in the Golden Knights' home rink. Remember that the 20-year-old London, ON native was selected 13th overall by Vegas in the 2017 NHL Draft. In September 2018, though, Suzuki was traded to the Canadiens along with Tomas Tatar, so this will be his first game in the state-of-the-art facility. His assist on Cousins' goal against Arizona is a good indication that he's up to the challenge.

Video: MTL@ARI: Cousins scores off Suzuki's nice feed

4. For their part, the Golden Knights should be a well-rested bunch for the Canadiens' lone regular-season visit. Gerard Gallant's club hasn't played since Sunday when they downed the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 5-2 in Sin City. Right-winger Mark Stone leads Vegas in scoring with 16 points (7G, 9A) in 13 games, while centerman William Karlsson and left-winger Max Pacioretty rank second in that department with 11 points each. It just so happens that Pacioretty is only one point shy of reaching the 500-point mark for his NHL career. 

5. Puck drop is scheduled for 10:00 p.m. ET. You can watch the game on TSN2 and RDS, and listen to all the action on TSN Radio 690 and 98,5 fm. Following the game, the Canadiens will fly to Dallas. They'll enjoy a day off in the city on Friday before squaring off against the Stars on Saturday night at the American Airlines Center to close out their road swing.

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