The New Jersey Devils (19-18-9) take on the Montreal Canadiens (27-12-6) at The Rock in their second meeting of the season. The Devils are coming off of an impressive showing in their three-game win streak against Calgary, Vancouver, and Minnesota. The Canadiens last played Wednesday night against Pittsburgh and lost 4-1; Carey Price was in net. The two teams’ previous meeting was a 5-2 loss at the Bell Centre back on December 8th. The Devils were outshot 49-25; Taylor Hall and Adam Henrique scored the lone goals for New Jersey and Hall’s was a power play goal. Also of note, Price attacked/punched Kyle Palmieri after he ran into him (was pushed and couldn’t stop) with his blocker while Palmieri was defenseless on the ice. Price did not face any repercussions for his actions and Palmieri did not intend to run into him. However, only “revenge” on the Devils’ minds should be winning, especially in front of their home crowd.
New Jersey returns to The Rock after a four-game road trip against the Western Conference, a trip in which they picked up seven out of a possible eight points. Montreal has lost three of their last four (1-7 Minnesota, 5-4 against New York [Rangers], 0-1 Detroit, and 1-4 Pittsburgh). Price started all four games. Al Montoya last started for the Canadiens on January 11th, a 7-4 win against Winnipeg.
Cory Schneider will most likely be in net tonight after his slew of phenomenal starts, which his record does not show (because of defensive issues and the offense’s inability to score enough goals). He is now 14-14-7 on the season with a goals against average of 2.69 and a save percentage of .910. Price is going through a bit of a slump. He is 8-7-3 in his last 18 games played with a GAA of 2.94 and a SV% of .891. While he’s not having a Vezina-type season, you always expect him to be on top of his game. However, Montoya will probably be in net tonight and Price will start tomorrow versus Buffalo.
New Jersey will most likely stick with the same lineup they’ve had over the last three games. If these lines continue to work, they need to play night in and night out to develop their chemistry and consistency. Seth Helgeson, Luke Gazdic, and Sergey Kalinin were the healthy scratches.
Max Pacioretty leads Montreal in points (37) and goals (20), and is having one of the best seasons of his career. Taylor Hall leads New Jersey in points (29) and P.A. Parenteau leads the team in goals with 12 but Hall and Henrique both have 11. Hall has two goals and two assists in his last three games. Palmieri has two goals and three assists in four games.
Although Andy Greene and Vern Fiddler have been practicing with the team, they are questionable to be in tonight’s lineup. There’s also good news: John Moore is skated for the first time yesterday after suffering a concussion from a hit by Washington’s Tom Wilson. Brendan Gallagher is on injured reserve with a wrist injury and is scheduled to miss about eight weeks. Andrei Markov is also still out for the Habs with a lower-body injury. However, Alex Galchenyuk is back for Montreal and scored in his first game back against the New York Rangers; he missed several weeks with a knee injury.
New Jersey will try and extend their win streak to four games when they take on Montreal at The Rock tonight; puck drops at 7:30PM.