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At the Rink: Wild at Canadiens

by Sean Farrell

MONTREAL -- With the Montreal Canadiens set to retire Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Guy Lapointe's No. 5 jersey, the Minnesota Wild could use skills like his to get their struggling power play going.

Lapointe, who is Minnesota's coordinator of amateur scouting, has worked for the Wild since 1999. He won the Stanley Cup six times with the Canadiens, who will retire his jersey in a ceremony prior to the game against Minnesota on Saturday.

Wild defenseman Marco Scandella grew up in Montreal.

"I'm super happy for Guy," said Scandella, who is the nephew of former Canadiens forward Sergio Momesso. "What a legend in Montreal. Six Stanley Cups, unbelievable defenseman, he played in some golden years of the Canadiens and it's just special to be here to witness that. I was too young to see him play, but he's just a great person. I met him at the [NHL] Draft in 2008 and every time I see him he just talks to you like you're a regular guy and like he's a regular guy. But you know in the back of your mind he's one of the legends of this city. We're really happy to have him in our organization and everyone is super proud of him getting his number retired."

Minnesota brings a two-game losing streak to Bell Centre. The Wild's power play has scored two goals in 38 opportunities, a 5.3 percent success rate that ranks 29th in the NHL.

"I wish we could explain it, to be honest with you," Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. "It's something that our power play actually kind of got off to a good start in the sense that we were generating a lot of chances, a lot of shots. The puck wasn't going in for us and then we started to become our own worst enemy. But we're confident that we'll get it turned around. But certainly it's been difficult going this stretch. It's tough winning games in particular on the road when your power play's not scoring, so it's something that we certainly have to pick up."

The Wild have one goal in their past two games, including a 3-0 loss at the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. Forwards Thomas Vanek and Nino Niederreiter scored Minnesota's only power-play goals in a 4-1 win at the Dallas Stars on Nov. 1.

"At a time like this you just want to stay simple," Coyle said. "Get pucks to the net, have traffic in front, guys going to the net and just not being too passive outside, just passing around the box. But it's going to come. Once that first comes it's going to keep coming."

Montreal's power play is hardly better at 28th in the League, with three goals in 38 opportunities (7.9 percent). The Canadiens have not scored with the man-advantage in their past eight games, and have six goals in their past six games.

They lost their past two home games, outscored by a total of 11-2, prior to a 2-1 shootout win at the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday.

"Obviously for a couple of those games we let in way too many goals, but at the same time we like the way we're trending right now," Montreal forward Max Pacioretty said. "I think that Buffalo game we put together a solid 65 minutes and I think that's ultimately what we're looking at, playing a full game and competing for a full game. Obviously the results haven't always been there the way we wanted, but I think when we worry about the process the results will take care of themselves."

Here are the projected lineups:


Thomas Vanek - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle

Nino Niederreiter - Kyle Brodziak - Justin Fontaine

Stephane Veilleux - Erik Haula - Ryan Carter

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Christian Folin

Keith Ballard - Matt Dumba

Darcy Kuemper

Niklas Backstrom

Scratched: Jonathon Blum, Nate Prosser

Injured: Matt Cooke (lower body), Zach Parise (concussion), Jared Spurgeon (upper body)


Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau

Alex Galchenyuk - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher

Jiri Sekac - Lars Eller - Brandon Prust

Travis Moen - Manny Malhotra - Dale Weise

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin - Mike Weaver

Nathan Beaulieu - Tom Gilbert

Carey Price

Dustin Tokarski

Scratched: Rene Bourque

Injured: Michael Bournival (shoulder)

Status report: Ballard returns to the lineup after being sidelined for nine games because of illness. He had one assist in his only game, Oct. 17, a 2-1 loss at the Anaheim Ducks. ... Yeo put Brodziak between Niederreiter and Fontaine, and moved Haula to the fourth line with Veilleux and Carter. … Bournival is out indefinitely after sustaining a shoulder injury Wednesday in Montreal's 2-1 shootout win at the Buffalo Sabres.

Who's hot: Kuemper is 6-3-0 with a 1.77 goals-against-average and .922 save percentage. … Parenteau scored his third shootout-winning goal Wednesday after scoring Montreal's only goal against the Sabres regulation.

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