2/27/17 Game Preview: Montréal Canadiens vs. New Jersey Devils

It’s Pride Night at The Rock as the New Jersey Devils (25-25-11) take on the Montréal Canadiens (33-21-8) in their third and final meeting of the season and they will look to avoid being swept in the season series. The two teams first met back in December at the Bell Centre, a 5-2 Devils loss. They were outshot 49-21 (yes, you read that correctly), and Adam Henrique and Taylor Hall scored goals for New Jersey. Hall’s was a power play goal and the Devils went 1/3 on the night. Cory Schneider made 44 saves (.898 save percentage) and Carey Price made 19 saves (.905 save percentage). Price also had four penalty minutes but let’s not discuss those. It’s still a sore spot. The two teams also met more recently in January at The Rock, a 3-1 Devils loss. Steven Santini scored his second goal of the season to give the Devils a 1-0 lead at 4:00 in the first but the Devils could not solve Al Montoya after that; he made 16 saves on 17 shots faced (.941 save %). Keith Kinkaid made 23 saves on 26 shots with an .885 save %. It was a much better game, overall, for the Devils.

Schneider will start for the Devils tonight. In his last 20 games, he is 9-6-4 with a 2.26 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. Montoya will be the starting goaltender for the Canadiens. Pavel Zacha (concussion) was placed on injured reserve this morning, retroactive to February 21st; the team should take extra precaution because of his past concussion history. Blake Coleman was recalled from Albany (AHL) and will likely play on the fourth line tonight.

This also the last time the Devils will play before the trade deadline on Wednesday. If the Devils decide to announce a trade right before the game as they did with Vern Fiddler, the lineup may look a little different than expected. P.A. Parenteau is out tonight because he “blocked” a “shot” against the Rangers on Saturday and his finger is injured so he is day-to-day. Kyle Quincey is being held out of tonight’s game (not a healthy scratch), which means John Moore will be in the lineup. Both (Parenteau and Quincey) will likely be traded before Wednesday.

The Devils are coming off of a 4-3 overtime loss to the Rangers; Henrique and Kyle Palmieri (2) both scored. Montréal had a 3-2 overtime win over Toronto; Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk both scored regulation goals, and Andrew Shaw scored the game-winner.

Montréal has gone on a bit of a slide since the Devils last saw them. They have played 15 games since then and have only won five of those games. They have lost stretches of three (2/11-2/18, with five days off for the bye week) and four games (2/2-2/7). Eight of their 10 losses have come in regulation and they have been shutout four times (Edmonton (shootout), Colorado, Boston and New York (Islanders)). They have also lost four of their last six but have won three of their last four on the road; they have been a better road team than home team (they have lost their last five at home), as have the Devils. Despite all of that, however, Montréal is still #1 in the Atlantic with Ottawa, Toronto, Boston, and Florida all not too far behind.

The Devils last saw the Canadiens amidst their seven-game losing streak at home. Since then, they have gone 6-6-2 overall. They are 2-5-2 at home and 3-1-0 on the road. They have been shutout just once, against Ottawa at home not too long ago. They have had a few strong games, especially in their last few against Ottawa and both New York teams.

The goals have been coming because the power play has been much, much better as of late. New Jersey has 11 power play goals in their last 10 games and have scored at least one in their last four games; they have an impressive 45.8% success rate over that 10-game span. They are now 18th in the league with an 18.1% success rate overall. Montréal does have the 10th best power play in the league, sitting at 21.1%. New Jersey’s penalty kill is slightly better at 81.0% compared to Montréal’s at 80.5%.

Come down to The Rock if you can because it should be a good game and it’s Pride Night! Special shirts with the #OneJersey slogan and a rainbow Devils logo will be available to purchase for $20. Pride-taped sticks will also be auctioned off to help benefit You Can Play. The Devils will look to end on the month on a strong note; puck drops at 7PM.

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