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Canadiens-Wild Preview

GAME: Montreal Canadiens (16-9-5) at Minnesota Wild (12-15-4).

TIME: Saturday, 8 p.m. EST.

The Montreal Canadiens try to snap six-game road losing streak as they wrap up a quick two-game road trip at the Xcel Center against the Minnesota Wild.

The Canadiens are 0-4-2 in their last six road games since a 3-2 win Nov. 4 at Buffalo and have been outscored 24-12 in that span. They are coming off a 5-3 defeat Thursday at Edmonton, where they yielded three third-period goals and had only three shots on net the final 20 minutes

Montreal again likely will be without three of its top forwards, right wing Alexei Kovalev and centers Saku Koivu and Radek Bonk. All three are injured, and while Michael Ryder has scored a goal in three consecutive games, Canadiens coach Claude Julien knows Ryder can't shoulder the load alone.

"We need some better efforts from certain individuals," Julien said. "Our penalty killers were tired guys at the end."

Montreal has a home game Tuesday against Ottawa before going on a five-game road trip that carries them until the end of the year.

The Wild's offensive struggles continued in Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins. Minnesota is 2-5-2 in its last nine games despite getting outscored only 23-21 in that span.

"We got a lot of chances, just couldn't capitalize," said Wild right wing Alexandre Daigle, who has just three goals this season after scoring 20 in the 2003-04 season. "That's the story of the last nine, 10 games. It seems every bad break, we get them."

Minnesota scored both its goals Thursday on the power play, continuing its strong play. The Wild have scored a power-play goal in five straight games, going 7-for-29 in that span. They also lead the league in penalty killing at 88.8 percent.

STANDINGS: Canadiens - 37 points, 3rd place, 9 PB, Northeast Division. Wild - 28 points, 5th place, 14 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canadiens - Ryder, 14 goals; Koivu, 18 assists and 26 points; Steve Begin, 59 PIM. Wild - Brian Rolston, 13 goals and 26 points; Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Daigle, 16 assists; Derek Boogaard, 62 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Canadiens - Power play: 19 percent (36 for 189), 8th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.1 percent (159 for 196), 22nd (tied). Wild - Power play: 19.5 percent (33 for 169), 7th. Penalty killing: 88.8 percent (151 for 170), 1st.

GOALTENDERS: Canadiens - Jose Theodore (13-7-5, 0 SO, 3.06 GAA); Cristobal Huet (no appearances). Wild - Manny Fernandez (9-5-3, 1, 2.06); Dwayne Roloson (3-10-1, 1, 2.55).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Canadiens, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 29, 2004; Canadiens, 3-2. At St. Paul, Minn., Richard Zednik's overtime goal with 28 seconds to play lifted the Canadiens to the win.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canadiens - 6-4-3 on the road; Wild - 7-6-1 at home.

Associated Press

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