After an unexpected three-day hiatus between games, the Nashville Predators are set to complete their two-game road trip tonight in Montreal when they face the Canadiens at the Bell Centre (6 p.m. CT). This evening's contest is the first of two meetings between the Preds and Habs this season; Nashville will host Montreal two weeks from now at Bridgestone Arena.
The Predators began their road trip on Tuesday night in Toronto with a 3-0 loss to the Maple Leafs, but instead of traveling to Ottawa to face the Senators on Thursday night, Nashville instead came to Montreal due to some extenuating circumstances.
On Monday afternoon, the NHL announced the postponement of Senators games through at least Saturday due to the number of Ottawa players currently in COVID protocol. Therefore, the Preds continued north to the province of Quebec to take advantage of two extra days of practice and some welcomed rest ahead of tonight's matchup with the Canadiens
"It was out of our control, but it's been nice," Preds forward Luke Kunin said Friday of the extra days in Montreal. "We get a few practice days you don't really get this time of the season, so we were able to work on some things that we see in the film, and I thought we've had a couple of good practice days. And it's always nice being on the road and going to dinners with the guys and just hanging out with the team and stuff like that. It's been fun, and we've made the most of it.
But we've watched a lot of film on some of the things we thought we could get better at. I think all the guys kind of saw that, and we're going to take it upon ourselves to be better in those areas. And I think we all believe if we do that, we're going to give ourselves the best chance to win."
The Predators could welcome a pair of players back into the lineup on Saturday night in Montreal; forward Nick Cousins (IR, upper-body) and defenseman Alexandre Carrier (day-to-day, upper-body) have practiced fully with the team for the past two days in Montreal. On Thursday, Predators Head Coach John Hynes "there's a chance" Carrier could play tonight against the Canadiens in his home province of Quebec.
Morning Update: The Preds have reassigned forward Cole Smith to Milwaukee (AHL). Additionally, the team has activated forward Nick Cousins from injured reserve.
Hynes has confirmed both Cousins and Carrier will return from their respective injuries and play tonight in Montreal.
Video: Carrier previews Nashville at Montreal
The Good Guys:
Preds goaltender Juuse Saros made 31 saves on Tuesday night in Toronto, but the Preds were shut out for the first time this season in a 3-0 loss. Matt Duchene (9g-7a), Roman Josi (6g-10a) and Mikael Granlund (3g-13a) are all tied for the team lead in scoring with 16 points apiece. Ryan Johansen (5g-4a) has nine points in 15 games, and Tanner Jeannot has five goals and eight points for Nashville. Saros is 7-5-1 on the season with a .928 save percentage.
The Canadiens will be looking to rebound tonight after falling to Pittsburgh on Thursday by a 6-0 final. Overall, Montreal has won just four games this season, and they've lost four-consecutive outings. Nick Suzuki leads the team with four goals and 14 points on the season, followed by Tyler Toffoli (3g-6a) with nine points. Josh Anderson, Mike Hoffman and Ben Chiarot also have four goals apiece. Cayden Primeau, who was pulled Thursday against the Penguins, is 0-2-0 for the Canadiens; Sam Montembeault is 0-3-1, and Jake Allen, who is dealing with an injury, is 4-8-1.
Video: Coach Hynes previews Nashville at Montreal
The Predators are 14-6-(1)-6 all-time against the Canadiens, including a 7-5-(0)-2 record on the road. Nashville and Montreal last met on March 10, 2020 at the Bell Centre, a 4-2 victory for the Predators. Notably, it was Nashville's final game before the 2019-20 NHL regular season was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nashville has picked up at least a point in 15 of its last 16 meetings with Montreal (11-1-4) and has only lost twice in regulation since Jan. 15, 2009. In 16 contests since the 2009-10 season, Nashville has limited Montreal to an average of 1.60 goals per game, including 15 games in which the Preds have given up two or fewer goals.
The Preds have earned a point in seven of their last eight games at the Bell Centre (6-1-1). On Nov. 14, 2009, the Predators put a franchise-record 55 shots on goal and outshot the Canadiens by a club-record 35 shots, and Pekka Rinne made 20 saves in a 2-0 victory at Bridgestone Arena.
Notables Versus Montreal:
Mikael Granlund posted an eight-game point streak vs. Montreal from Dec. 22, 2015-Jan. 7, 2019, tallying three goals and 13 points. He has 15 points (3g-12a) in 13 career games against the Canadiens, including five multi-point outings.
Matt Duchene has 14 points (3g-11a) in 19 career meetings with Montreal. Roman Josi has seven points (1g-6a) in 12 career games against the Canadiens.
Michael McCarron was selected by Montreal in the first round (25th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft. He appeared in 69 games for the Canadiens from 2015-18 and tallied eight points (2g-8a). Nick Cousins played 58 games for the Canadiens in 2019-20 and had 22 points (9g-13a).
Mathieu Olivier grew up in Levis, Que., and played five seasons in the QMJHL for Moncton, Shawinigan and Sherbrooke from 2013-18. Alexandre Carrier is a native of Quebec City, Que., and played four seasons for Gatineau in the QMJHL from 2012-16.
Watch & Listen:
Coverage for tonight's 6 p.m. CT puck drop from the Bell Centre begins at 5:30 p.m. CT with the Predators Live! pregame show on Bally Sports South. Willy Daunic, Chris Mason and Lyndsay Rowley have the call on the television side, while Pete Weber and Hal Gill will broadcast on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network. Pregame coverage on the radio begins at 5 p.m. with Darren McFarland. For broadcast information and channel locations throughout the country, click here.