Predators-Canadiens Preview

The Montreal Canadiens have increased their lead in the

Northeast Division with an impressive four-game winning streak. The

Nashville Predators hope they’re not the next victim.

Montreal plays the third game of a four-game homestand Thursday

night against Nashville, which has lost six of eight and fallen to

the bottom of the Central Division.

The Canadiens continued their run with a 3-0 victory over

Philadelphia on Tuesday. Carey Price made 41 saves and earned his

second shutout in four games for Montreal (12-5-1).

Price, who has started all but one game this season, improved to

11-5-1 with a 2.05 goals-against average.

“It’s always the next step that you have to look forward to,”

Price said. “We can savor this one, but then tomorrow we start

preparing for the next one.”

With Price in net, Montreal has given up three goals during the

win streak.

“He made some really good saves in the first period to keep us

in it, and he gave us an opportunity and we took the lead,”

defenseman P.K. Subban said, “but he stood on his head. He made

timely saves and he’s playing well right now.”

So is captain Brian Gionta, who scored for the third straight

game and fourth time in his last five with a power-play goal in the

third period. After scoring once with the man advantage through the

first 14 games, the Canadiens have recorded seven power-play goals

over the last four, including two against the Flyers.

Tomas Plekanec recorded his team-leading 20th point with a goal

and an assist and has six points in his last two games. Michael

Cammalleri, whose plus-12 rating is tied for second in the NHL,

scored his fifth goal.

While the Canadiens have won five of six, the Predators (7-6-3)

have struggled. Nashville, in the midst of playing nine of 10 games

on the road, fell 5-4 to Toronto on Tuesday.

The Predators jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead on goals

from J.P. Dumont, Jordin Tootoo and Martin Erat. They went up 4-1

on Marcel Goc’s goal early in the second, but gave up four

power-play goals in the period.

Nashville committed six penalties in the second and allowed two

goals while on 5-on-3 disadvantages.

“We gave them momentum by taking penalty after penalty after

penalty,” coach Barry Trotz said. “When are we going to learn? You

have a team down and out, you have them on the floor gasping for

air and you let them off the mat. We stopped working, we stopped

skating and therefore you take penalties.

“We deserved exactly what we got in the end.”

Penalty killing has been a problem for the Predators, who rank

24th in the league at 77.8 percent.

Nashville beat Montreal in the only meeting last season, firing

55 shots on Price as Pekka Rinne earned a 2-0 victory last Nov.

14.