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Wild confident in Kuemper as they face Canadiens

by Dan Myers / NHL.com

CANADIENS (20-12-3) at WILD (17-9-6)

TV: NBCSN, RDS, SNE

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Darcy Kuemper will start in goal for the Minnesota Wild against the Montreal Canadiens at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday.

It's an opportunity earned through quality play during a recent stretch of games when Devan Dubnyk missed time with a groin injury.

"At the start of the year and last year, we probably would have looked at this as an opportunity where [Dubnyk] could have played this game, given the fact we have a nice break after this," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "But the way [Kuemper] has been playing has provided us with this opportunity to give [Dubnyk] some rest."

Kuemper entered the game for an injured Dubnyk against the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 5 and helped finish off a 2-0 win. He started the next four games, allowing a total of four goals in regulation. The Wild went 2-0-2 during that span.

Minnesota has at least one point in each game where Kuemper has a decision this season (3-0-4).

"It was nice to get a stretch of games in and get on a bit of a roll," Kuemper said. "The team was playing awesome defensively and it allowed me to feel good in there. Now I've gotta just keep going."

Minnesota will try to get back on track after its second consecutive loss on Monday, a 6-3 loss to the Dallas Stars.

Montreal did not skate after a 5-1 loss to the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Monday. The Canadiens have lost four straight games and are 2-8-0 in the month of December.

The Canadiens announced Mike Condon will start in goal and forward Devante Smith-Pelly will return to the lineup after missing eight games with a lower body injury.

Canadiens coach Michel Therrien has had to pull his goalie in each of the past two games. Condon was replaced by Dustin Tokarski at the Dallas Stars on Saturday after allowing six goals on 23 shots in a 6-2 Canadiens loss. Tokarski was pulled at the Nashville Predators on Monday after allowing three goals on 14 shots in a 5-1 Canadiens loss.

The Canadiens have allowed 17 goals over their four-game losing streak, and Therrien called his goaltending situation difficult after the game in Nashville.

Here are the projected lineups:

CANADIENS

Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Dale Weise

Lars Eller - Alex Galchenyuk - Daniel Carr

Tomas Fleischmann - Tomas Plekanec - Paul Byron

Brian Flynn - Torrey Mitchell - Devante Smith-Pelly

Nathan Beaulieu - P.K. Subban

Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin

Jarred Tinordi - Tom Gilbert

Mike Condon

Dustin Tokarski

Injured: Carey Price (lower body), Brendan Gallagher (finger), Jeff Petry (lower body)

Scratched: Greg Pateryn, Sven Andrighetto

WILD

Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Thomas Vanek - Mikko Koivu - Jason Zucker

Nino Niederreiter - Charlie Coyle - Justin Fontaine

Erik Haula - Jarret Stoll - Ryan Carter

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella - Jonas Brodin

Nate Prosser - Matt Dumba

Darcy Kuemper

Devan Dubnyk

Injured: None

Scratched: Mike Reilly, Chris Porter, Niklas Backstrom

Status report: Montreal assigned forward Michael McCarron to St. John's of the American Hockey League. … Haula will draw back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch in each of the past three games. He will take the spot of Porter, who will be scratched for the first time this season.

Who's hot: Subban has an assist in each of the past two games and his 23 assists are third-most among NHL defensemen. … Spurgeon signed a four-year, $20.75 million extension with the Wild on Monday, then scored the first goal of the game against the Stars. Eleven of his 17 points have come on home ice.

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