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Game Preview #51: New Jersey Devils at Montreal Canadiens

The Devils head up to Montreal to try to earn their 20th win of the season.

Montreal Canadiens v New Jersey Devils
Andy Greene will look to lead the Devils past the Canadiens this afternoon.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Devils look to put a rough loss to the Rangers behind them as they take on the Canadiens in Montreal this afternoon.

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (19-24-7) at the Montreal Canadiens (28-18-5; SBN Blog: Eyes On The Prize)

The Time: 2:00 PM ET

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+

The Last Devils Game: The Devils dropped a 4-3 game to the New York Rangers on Thursday night. It was especially frustrating after they jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Nico Hischier (unassisted) and Marcus Johansson (Brian Boyle, Damon Severson). Unfortunately, Johansson took a careless penalty with 7 seconds left in the period and Mika Zibanejad scored with 2 seconds left to put the Rangers on the board. Zibanejad would score his second goal of the game in the middle period to even things up at 2. Chris Kreider would give the Rangers are 3-2 lead a few minutes into the third period but Egor Yakovlev (Johansson, Hischier) would level it up just about a minute later. Sure enough, Zibanejad would earn a hat trick and the 2 points for the Rangers with a late goal. Keith Kinkaid made 21 saves on 25 shots while Henrik Lundqvist made 19 saves on 22 shots. Here is John’s recap of the game which goes into detail of how the Devils let themselves and the fans down.

The Last Canadiens Game: The Canadiens last played on January 23 when they defeated the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 at the Centre Bell. Jonathan Drouin and Mike Reilly had the goals for Montreal while Tomas Tatar, Jeff Petry, and Charles Hudon had an assist each. Carey Price made 30 saves on 31 shots as the Canadiens were outshot by the Coyotes by 31-24. Justin Blades of Eyes on the Prize has this recap of the game. David St-Louis, also of Eyes on the Prize, has this post about Joel Armia after his impressive defensive performance and puck control ability against the Coyotes.

The Last Devils-Canadiens Game: These teams last met on November 21, 2018 when the Devils earned a 5-2 victory at the Prudential Center. Pavel Zacha led the way with 2 goals while Taylor Hall had a goal and an assist. Other goal scorers for New Jersey were Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri. Marcus Johansson had 2 assists while Andy Greene, Blake Coleman, Damon Severson, Brett Seney, Jesper Bratt, and Egor Yakovlev had an assist each. Keith Kinkaid made 24 saves on 26 shots to pick up the win. Carey Price made just 23 saves on 28 shots as the Devils outshot the Canadiens 28-26. This was also the game that Joey Anderson suffered his broken ankle injury. Here is John’s thorough recap of the game which talks about why this was an excellent win due ot the Devils top 6 stepping up as well as the special teams.

The Goal: Be competitive. I don’t expect the Devils to win but I do expect them to show a response after a disappointing loss to their rivals on Thursday night. At the bare minimum, I want to see the Devils play a disciplined game to stay out of the penalty box and make the right reads and decisions to avoid giving the Canadiens any easy chances at their net. The Devils are missing their top player in Taylor Hall, but there are still quality players on this team that can create scoring chances and finish plays. Win or lose this afternoon, I want the Canadiens to come away from this game feeling that the Devils made it tough out on the ice.

Canadiens Notes: Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette has these notes from Canadiens practice on Thursday. Here are how the lines and pairings looked in practice, but note that Andrew Shaw is still not ready to return to game action and Karl Alzner is getting loaned to the AHL team:

Drouin – DanaultGallagher

Tatar – Domi – Byron

Lehkonen – Kotkaniemi – Armia

Agostino – Chaput – Shaw

Hudon – Peca – Deslauriers

Mete – Weber

Reilly – Petry

Kulak – Benn

Alzner

Canadiens Leaders: The Devils will have to keep a close eye on Max Domi (16-28-44 in 51 games), Tomas Tatar (16-22-38 in 51), Jonathan Drouin (14-23-37 in 51), Phillip Danault (8-25-33 in 51), and Brendan Gallagher (19-11-30 in 51) up front. On the back end there is Jeff Petry (10-25-35 in 51, 23:33 ATOI) and Shea Weber (7-9-16 in 27, 24:16).

Player Notes: Amanda Stein reported yesterday that Andy Greene and Travis Zajac both missed practice. Chris Ryan reports that Zajac will not play today though Greene is expected to. It looks like the Devils injury list is now Taylor Hall, Sami Vatanen, Travis Zajac, Ben Lovejoy, Joey Anderson, and Stefan Noesen.

Potential Goaltending Match Up: Amanda Stein reported yesterday that Coach Hynes has made his decision but still needed to inform the goaltenders. I have to imagine that Mackenzie Blackwood will be in goal. The rookie is 5-4 with a .924 SV% and 2.41 GAA. According to Hockey-Reference he has 6 Quality Starts to 2 Really Bad Starts and holds a 4.92 Goals Saved Above Average. Keith Kinkaid is now 14-15-6 with a .898 SV% and 3.12 GAA. Hockey-Reference has him at 14 Quality Starts to 8 Really Bad Starts with a -9.85 Goals Saved Above Average.

Carey Price will miss this game due to skipping the All-Star Game. Antti Niemi is expected to start and is 8-5-1 with a .894 SV% and 3.66 GAA. He has 4 Quality Starts and 3 Really Bad Starts along with a -6.88 Goals Saved Above Average according to Hockey-Reference. The Devils should be able to get goals this afternoon. 21 year old Michael McNiven is expected to be the Canadiens back up tonight. The former Owen Sound Attack netminder hasn’t played in the NHL and has a .907 SV% in 16 AHL games in his 2nd professional season.

Your Take: What are your expectations for this game? What line up are you hoping to see? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!