CANADIENS (10-11-5) at KINGS (13-8-4)
TV: CBC, NHLN-US, RDS (HD), FS-W (HD)
Montreal 3-4-3; Los Angeles 6-3-1
This is the only meeting of the 2011-12 schedule between these teams. In their most recent matchup on Nov. 24, 2010, Montreal claimed a 4-1 win at home as Andrei Kostitsyn
had a goal and an assist and Michael Cammalleri
, Tomas Plekanec
and Lars Eller
scored goals. Carey Price
made 24 saves in the triumph.
Both teams enter the contest in a bit of a funk. The Canadiens, who are 11th in the Eastern Conference, have lost five of their last six. The Kings, owning the sixth seed in the West, have dropped three of their last six. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick
made his 21st start of the season on Thursday in the club's 25th game. Despite the heavy workload, Quick (11-6-4) sports a 1.97 goals-against average and .936 save percentage. Price, meanwhile, has started 22 of Montreal's 26 games and has produced a 9-8-5 record, 2.29 GAA and .917 save percentage.
The Canadiens enter having dropped two of their three games during a three-game swing through California, including a 4-3 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. Erik Cole
had given the Canadiens a 3-2 lead 8:46 into the third but the Sharks pulled even when Ryane Clowe fired home a goal with just 1:26 remaining in regulation. Joe Pavelski would score the eventual winner for the Sharks in the sixth round of a shootout. Cammalleri and David Desharnais
also scored for the Habs. Montreal is without leading goal scorer Max Pacioretty
(10 goals), who will sit out the final game of his three-game suspension for hitting Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang in the third period of their Nov. 26 game at the Bell Centre.
If not for Quick, the Florida Panthers would have probably celebrated their first victory over the Kings since 2002 on Thursday. As it turned out, Quick turned aside 41 shots, including 15 in the second, to make certain goals by Jack Johnson
and Dustin Brown
held up in a 2-1 triumph. Quick also earned an assist on Brown's decisive goal 14:13 into the second. Coach Terry Murray might give backup Jonathan Bernier
the start on Saturday. The Kings lost center Mike Richards
for the third period after he took a hit from Sean Bergenheim 16:52 into the second.
Richards, who has settled in nicely on a line with Simon Gagne
and Jarret Stoll
, has 7 goals and 8 points in his last 8 games.
Richards (upper body) was to be evaluated on Friday and is listed day-to-day, as is defenseman Willie Mitchell
(lower body). Dustin Penner
missed his ninth straight games with a hand injury against the Panthers and is not expected to play. The Kings are also without Scott Parse
(lower body) and Alec Martinez
(upper body). … The Canadiens are without forward Scott Gomez
(lower body) and defensemen Andrei Markov
(knee), Jaroslav Spacek
(upper body), Chris Campoli
(leg) and Pacioretty (suspension).
The Canadiens' penalty-killing unit hasn't given up a power-play goal in 12 of their last 13 games and is fourth in the League with an 87.6 percent efficiency. The power play, meanwhile, is 0-for-22 over the last six games and ranks 27th (11.8 percent).
Montreal defenseman Hal Gill
blocked 11 shots on Wednesday in a 4-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. For the season, Gill ranks fifth in the League with 62 blocks.