Red Wings-Canadiens Preview
After locking up the franchise’s top active scorer for two more seasons, the Montreal Canadiens will try to add to the best start in their storied franchise’s history.
The Canadiens would appear to have a strong chance to improve to 6-0-0 on Saturday night given their recent dominance over the short-handed Detroit Red Wings.
Montreal (5-0-0) announced Friday they signed Tomas Plekanec to a two-year extension. The top-line center, who has 206 goals and 503 points in his 12 seasons with the Canadiens, has scored four goals in the first five games to tie Max Pacioretty for the team lead.
Plekanec tallied an empty-netter and Carey Price made 25 saves in a 3-0 win Thursday over the New York Rangers.
"(The record start) is rewarding, but I’m more happy about the way the team’s playing," Pacioretty said after his first home game as the franchise’s 29th captain. "It’s so fun to roll four lines and see everyone going. … There are no egos on this team right now."
San Jose and Colorado were the last NHL teams to start 6-0-0 in 2013-14. Montreal will try to match that while earning a seventh consecutive win over one of its Original Six rivals.
Detroit lost four of those matchups last season and won’t have a number of key players for the first one this season. Pavel Datsyuk is continuing to recover from offseason ankle surgery and Johan Franzen is back on injured reserve because of a recurrence of concussion symptoms.
Darren Helm hasn’t played so far this season because he’s recovering from a concussion, and Danny DeKeyser has an ailing foot.
The Red Wings, though, started 3-0-0 under new coach Jeff Blashill before losing 5-3 to previously winless Carolina on Friday, a team they beat 4-3 last Saturday.
The Hurricanes took a 3-0 lead early in the second period with Jimmy Howard in net for the Red Wings. Detroit (3-1-0) could only cut that deficit to one goal before the second intermission.
"Our guys know that wasn’t good enough," Blashill said. "Carolina might not have played well in their other (three) games, but against us, they are winning puck races and puck battles."
The Red Wings are expected to start Petr Mrazek, who has never faced Montreal, in net for the at least the first two of their four consecutive road games.
"It’s early in the season but we’re playing a lot of good teams. Pittsburgh, the Rangers and it doesn’t stop because we’ve got Detroit," coach Michel Therrien said. "It’s going to be another huge challenge. This is the way it is in the NHL."
Plekanec has a team-best five goals and four assists in the win streak against the Red Wings. Pacioretty has provided three goals and three assists while playing in five of those games.
Price has a 2.18 goals-against average in his five consecutive wins against Detroit.
Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, who has a team-leading eight points, has just two assists in his last three games versus the Canadiens.
"They had a little bit of a shakeup this year, and they’re responding well to it," Pacioretty said. "They’re motivated and they have confidence. I think some of their veterans, like Zetterberg, are playing their best hockey. Those are guys we’re going to have to take a hard look at and make sure we shut them down."
Montreal has won three straight at home in the series.