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Canadiens continue road trip against Predators

by Arpon Basu

CANADIENS (21-13-3) at PREDATORS (16-16-5) 


Last 10: Nashville 3-6-1; Montreal 6-4-0.

Season series: The Nashville Predators defeated the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 at Bell Centre on Oct. 19 on a late goal by rookie defenseman Seth Jones. This is the final game between the teams this season.

Big story: The Canadiens and Predators will be welcoming players back into the lineup who were expected to be offensive leaders but who were scratched in each team's previous game because of a lack of production.

For the Canadiens that player is Daniel Briere, who was made a healthy scratch by coach Michel Therrien for Montreal's 5-1 road loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday. Briere skated on a line with Lars Eller and Rene Bourque at practice Friday, which would suggest he'll be back in the lineup. Therrien said his "intention" is to play Briere but that it will only be confirmed just prior to the game.

Briere was signed to a two-year, $8 million contract as a free agent in the offseason after his contract with the Philadelphia Flyers was bought out, and he was expected to bring some offensive punch to the Canadiens. But Briere has gone seven games without a point and is 11th in scoring on the Canadiens with 10 points in 26 games.

"When things aren't working, you're taken out of the lineup," Briere told reporters in Nashville after practice Friday. "So when you're put back in, there's no doubt you want to do everything you can to stay. That will be the case for me if I have the chance to play [Saturday]."

For the Predators, it will be Colin Wilson who will return after he was scratched by coach Barry Trotz for a 4-2 road loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Wilson, 24, was being counted on to deliver offensively in his fifth season with the Predators but that hasn't happened, with 15 points in 34 games, and one assist in his past six.

"Our job as coaches is to try to get him to the next level," Trotz told The Tennessean. "As a coach you try everything from a subtle approach, to a teaching approach, to an in your face approach, to all those things. Colin has been in the league five years now. He has to figure it out too. There's a responsibility on the player as there is on the coaches."

Team Scope:

Canadiens: The Canadiens have had a lot of trouble scoring of late, snapping a streak of five straight games without a 5-on-5 goal when Brendan Gallagher scored in the second period Thursday in St. Louis.

One streak that did survive was Montreal's run of games without scoring in the first period, which now stands at eight. The Canadiens have been outscored 8-0 and outshot 86-58 in the first period of those games. They've trailed after 20 minutes in five of the eight games, something that had happened six times in their first 29 games.

"I think it would be beneficial if we jump out to a lead in the first period," goalie Carey Price told reporters Friday. "It seems lately we've been trailing after the first for a few games, so I think if we could do that it would give us a little bit more confidence going into the rest of the game."

Predators : The Predators revealed some bad news Friday when it was announced that the beginning of goaltender Pekka Rinne's rehabilitation from a bacterial infection in his hip would be delayed at least another two weeks. The blow of Rinne's injury has been softened somewhat by the play of Carter Hutton and rookie Marek Mazanec, but both have struggled of late.

Mazanec allowed nine goals in his past two starts, while Hutton was pulled Thursday in Tampa after allowing four goals on 14 shots. But he told The Tennessean he is confident in his ability to bounce back Saturday if he gets the chance.

"The ultimate goal is to be consistent as much as possible, that's what elite goalies in this League can do," Hutton said. "But elite goalies in this League also have tough nights too, and they bounce back. I think that's the biggest thing. I watch video, I learn what I can and I process it, and the sun came up again today and it's a new day."

Who's hot: Canadiens center David Desharnais has three assists in two games after getting one in his previous six. … Nashville's top defense pair of Shea Weber and Roman Josi has combined for 12 points in the Predators' past six games.

Injury report: The Canadiens are without defenseman Davis Drewiske (shoulder) and right wing George Parros (concussion)…Rinne is the lone injury for the Predators.

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