KINGS (19-9-2) at CANADIENS (20-9-3)
TV: RDS, CITYM, FS-W
MONTREAL -- Montreal Canadiens defensemen P.K. Subban and Nathan Beaulieu will remain paired against the Los Angeles Kings at Bell Centre on Thursday.
Beaulieu replaced veteran defenseman Andrei Markov on Montreal's top pair during the second period of the Canadiens' 3-1 loss against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.
"We're aggressive players, we take risks, and the biggest thing is to limit them and only take calculated risks," Beaulieu said. "If I see [Subban] going, I know that I need to be back, and vice versa. So the biggest thing is just trying to read off each other early, see where each other's at, and we just can't get caught trying to jump at the same time, because that's when odd-man rushes happen, so the biggest thing is just getting good reads off each other."
Markov and Subban were on the ice for all three San Jose goals. Goalie Dustin Tokarski was pulled after the Sharks' third goal, the result of Markov's turnover behind the Montreal net.
Beaulieu and Subban assisted on Dale Weise's goal, which drew the Canadiens within two.
"It's a different style we had to play at the end of last game," Beaulieu said. "When we were put together, no one needed to say anything to us, we knew what we had to do. We knew what our mission was, but [Thursday] it's not run-and-gun right away, we've got to play a good 60 minutes. That's the biggest thing in here, everyone's focused on that. We need to be better defensively than we are offensively, because this team will kill you early on, so the biggest thing is we want the puck out of our zone as quick as possible and try to push the pace early on in the game."
Montreal has not scored a power-play goal while going 1-5-0 in its past six games.
Canadiens goalie Mike Condon will make his first start in four games. Condon, who lost his three previous starts, replaced Tokarski on Tuesday and made saves on the six shots he faced. He is 9-5-3 with a 2.21 goals-against-average and a .912 save percentage in 19 games.
The Kings traveled to the resort town of Mont-Tremblant, Que., after their 5-3 loss at the Ottawa Senators on Monday. After a day away from the rink, they practiced at the local arena before making the 90-minute bus ride south to Montreal on Wednesday.
"We really didn't do too much without the snow there, but it was a great time to relax," Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty said. "Good team bonding. We were all together every day, the entire team. We'd go to the spa, get massages, go in the hot and cold tub, really just regroup and regenerate. I think it was important for our team to get that. But now that we did have those days off we have to make sure we come back strong and win a hockey game [Thursday]."
The loss in Ottawa ended the Kings' streak of nine straight games with a point (7-0-2). Los Angeles is 2-1-1 on a six-game trip that concludes at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
"We just had a tough game in Ottawa, but we're fine," Doughty said. "We're not panicking, we're not worried about it. We've got to play a good team here in Montreal and we know they play a similar game to Ottawa where they want to get a lot of rush chances, they're a high-scoring offense. The way we're going to beat them is by playing our type of style, which is a hard-hitting game, get in on the forecheck and play well defensively."
Kings left wing Milan Lucic will play his first game in Montreal since he was traded to Los Angeles by the Boston Bruins.
"I'm actually really interested to see what it's going to be like and feel like because every time you would come into the Bell Centre with Boston there was always a special excitement and feeling, the fans were a little bit rowdier than usual," Lucic said. "So I'm interested to see what it's going to feel like here with another team. But there's some history here with the Kings and the Canadiens from back in '93, so maybe there's some excitement from back then."
Doughty experienced for himself Lucic's high profile in Montreal.
"Walking around town with [Lucic], everyone recognizes him," Doughty said. "I think most of them don't like him, but when they see him in person they're always happy to get a picture with him. He's a legend here. And rightfully so."
Here are the projected lineups:
Milan Lucic – Anze Kopitar – Marian Gaborik
Michael Mersch – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Tanner Pearson – Nick Shore – Dustin Brown
Andy Andreoff – Jordan Weal – Jordan Nolan
Brayden McNabb – Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin – Alec Martinez
Christian Ehrhoff – Jamie McBain
Injured: Trevor Lewis (upper body), Dwight King (lower body), Kyle Clifford (upper body), Matt Greene (upper body)
Scratched: Derek Forbort
Max Pacioretty - Tomas Plekanec - Paul Byron
Lars Eller - Alex Galchenyuk - Dale Weise
Tomas Fleischmann - David Desharnais - Daniel Carr
Sven Andrighetto - Torrey Mitchell - Brian Flynn
Nathan Beaulieu - P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin- Jeff Petry
Andrei Markov - Tom Gilbert
Injured: Carey Price (lower body), Brendan Gallagher (hand), Devante Smith-Pelly (lower body)
Scratched: Greg Pateryn, Jarred Tinordi, Charles Hudon
Status report: Carter did not take part in the morning skate. "He's OK," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. Lewis, who is on injured reserve, flew to Montreal on Wednesday and took part in the morning skate. Gallagher and Smith-Pelly skated on the other rink at the Canadiens' suburban practice facility. "Hopefully I can get back in the lineup before the Christmas break," said Smith-Pelly, who has been out since Dec. 3.
Who's hot: Kopitar has assists in three straight games, and five in his past six. He has 12 points in 12 games (three goals, nine assists). Muzzin and Lucic each have three goals and three assists in six games. Martinez has a goal and three assists in his past four games.