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Canadiens look to extend win streak against Nashville

by Arpon Basu /

PREDATORS (3-3-1) at CANADIENS (5-2-0)


Season series: This is the Nashville Predators' first visit to Bell Centre since Nov. 18, 2010, and their first game against the Montreal Canadiens since Nov. 12, 2011. The Canadiens won the last meeting 2-1 in overtime.

Big story: The Canadiens are on a roll with four straight victories, including three against Western Conference opponents. Montreal is 3-1-0 thus far against Western teams, making them the exception in an Eastern Conference that has gone a collective 18-27-5 against the West.

Team Scope:

Predators: The problem in Nashville last season was generating goals from a lineup that wasn't littered with a lot of offensive stars. That appears to be the case again this season.

Through seven games the Predators have scored 14 goals, which had them 26th in the NHL in goals per game prior to Friday night's action. Last season, they finished 29th in the same category, and there was some hope that the addition of four-free agent forwards over the offseason would at least add to Nashville's depth up front to make for a more balanced attack.

The Predators attack is indeed balanced, it just hasn't produced enough. Only two Predators, Mike Fisher and Patric Hornqvist have two goals, while 10 other players are tied for third on the team in goals with one apiece.

Nashville is coming off a 2-1 shootout loss at home to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, and while the goal total wasn't impressive, Predators coach Barry Trotz was happy with his team's play.

"Our effort was great. I thought we had a lot of detail in our game. We just couldn't find an answer for Jonathan Quick," Trotz said. "If he doesn't have a night like he did, we probably light them up tonight."

Canadiens: Montreal won its fourth straight game 5-3 against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday using the type of balanced attack the Predators may be trying to emulate.

None of Montreal's forwards played fewer than 10 minutes in the game and none had more ice time than the 18:12 played by Brandon Prust, giving a good idea of how coach Michel Therrien is running his bench of late.

"It's different people every night that are stepping up," Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher said Friday after practice. "That's when we're good, when everyone's contributing, when we're playing a full 60 minutes, when we're rolling all four of our lines and that's what we've been doing lately. It gets everyone involved on the bench and it's fun to be a part of."

The Canadiens were the NHL's fourth-highest scoring team at 3.57 goals per game entering Friday night's action.

Who's hot: Predators C Matt Cullen scored his first goal as a Nashville Predator in Thursday's shootout loss to the Kings, while G Pekka Rinne made 29 saves on 30 shots. Fisher and Craig Smith are tied for the team scoring lead with five points in seven games. ... Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban is on a six-game point streak, with two goals and eight assists in that span. His 10 points on the season had him in a six-way tie for second in the NHL entering Friday's games.

Injury report: Predators defenseman Roman Josi (concussion) is questionable for Saturday's game. Rich Clune is not with the team for personal reasons and is also questionable … The Canadiens will be without forwards Max Pacioretty (hamstring) and George Parros (concussion) as well as defensemen Alexei Emelin (knee), Davis Drewiske (shoulder) and Douglas Murray (upper body).

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