Canadiens-Red Wings Preview
Gustav Nyquist is on the cusp of matching the Detroit Red Wings’ longest scoring streak in over 10 years.
They’d certainly like to capitalize on his production.
Nyquist looks to score in a seventh straight game, as the Red Wings seek a third consecutive win over the Montreal Canadiens in an Original Six matchup Thursday night.
Nyquist has a team-high 25 goals after totaling four in 40 games over the past two seasons. The center has been particularly impressive of late, totaling nine goals during a six-game scoring streak, one shy of Anaheim’s Corey Perry for the longest of the season.
He’s also one short of becoming the first Red Wing to find the net in seven straight games since Brett Hull did it from Nov. 26-Dec. 8, 2003.
"He’s on a roll and feeling good about himself," coach Mike Babcock said. "You never know until these players play whether they can do it in this league. He’s been a dominant scorer in every league he’s ever played in."
Detroit (33-25-14), however, has dropped two in a row and is 3-2-1 during Nyquist’s streak. It’s tied with Columbus, Washington and Toronto for the two wild-card positions in the Eastern Conference.
Reaching the playoffs for a 23rd straight season would mean getting captain Henrik Zetterberg back. The center is recovering from back surgery after getting hurt with Sweden at the Sochi Olympics.
"That’s the goal," Zetterberg said of potentially returning next month.
Despite not playing since Feb. 8, Zetterberg still leads the team with 48 points.
The Red Wings have recently been bolstered by the return of Darren Helm and Joakim Andersson. Tomas Jurco, who has been out for two weeks with injured ribs, is expected to play Thursday.
"The big thing is you get them back, but they’re good for one game and then it takes them about three games to get their conditioning up to speed," Babcock said.
Continued production from Nyquist could be key since he’s scored two goals with one assist, while Detroit has won both meetings with the Canadiens (41-26-7) this season. He scored with 28 seconds left in overtime of a 2-1 at Montreal in the most recent matchup Feb. 26.
While Detroit’s playoff hopes may go down to the wire, the Canadiens are nine points clear of the cutoff and two ahead of Tampa Bay for second in the Atlantic Division. Montreal won its third in a row and for the sixth time in seven games with Tuesday’s 2-0 victory over Buffalo.
"The good thing is that we are in control of our own destiny," center Daniel Briere told the team’s official website. "We’ve really stepped on the pedal in the last couple of weeks."
Max Pacioretty, who scored along with Briere in the third period Tuesday, leads the Canadiens with 32 goals, while his 50 points tie P.K. Subban for the most on the club. He’s totaled seven points in the past eight games, scoring two goals over the past three.
Pacioretty, though, hasn’t managed a point in this season’s games versus Detroit.
Carey Price will likely be back in net after making 24 saves against the Sabres for his fifth shutout of the season. He’s won seven of eight starts behind a 2.01 goals-against average.
Price has lost his last two visits to Detroit, surrendering seven goals on 57 shots. He had 22 saves in a 4-1 loss there Jan. 24.
These teams conclude their season series in Montreal on April 5.