The atmosphere in the Bell Centre is among the most electric in the NHL.
It goes up a notch when former Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban comes back to town with the Nashville Predators.
Subban and the Predators (32-12-9) will be looking to earn a point for the 14th time in their past 15 games when they play the Canadiens (22-26-6) on Saturday.
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Subban, whose popularity in Montreal soared when he made a commitment in 2015 while still a member of the Canadiens to raise $10 million for the Montreal Children’s Hospital, visited the hospital Friday with his Predators teammates. That will probably make the welcome he receives Saturday night even warmer.
“We weren’t surprised at all,” Children’s Hospital Vice President of Communications, Marketing, Stewardship and Events Kim Fraser told the Predators website of Subban’s continued support of the hospital. “It’s pure P.K.”
Subban, who was traded to the Predators for defenseman Shea Weber June 29, 2016, is having one of the best seasons of his career. He had two goals in the Predators’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, giving him 43 points (15 goals, 28 assists) in 53 games. He is third in the league in defensemen scoring and a candidate to win his second Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman.
“Clearly it wasn’t enough,” Subban said of his output against the Senators. “It’s just your all-around game. It was better today, but I’m going to have to be a lot better on Saturday (against the Montreal Canadiens).”
Predators star forward Filip Forsberg, second on the team in scoring, served the final game of his three-game suspension for interference on New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey against the Senators and is eligible to return against the Canadiens.
Pekka Rinne is expected to start in goal for the Predators.
The Canadiens had their two-game winning streak ended with a 5-3 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.
Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty said he’s not expecting things to get any easier against the Predators, who lead the Central Division with 73 points.
“They’re a great team, a very strong team,” Pacioretty told the team’s website. “They’re built down the middle and on the back end. Teams like that are very hard to match up against. I’m sure there will be a lot of matching (Saturday).”
“They’re doing well. They made it to the Stanley Cup Final last year,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien told montrealcanadiens.com. “They have the pieces to go far again this year. We played well against them this year (3-2 loss in a shootout in November in Nashville) and we beat them last year when they came here. We seem to play well against them so I hope that will be the case (Saturday).”