Canadiens limp in to visit Predators (Nov 22, 2017)
NASHVILLE -- When the Nashville Predators traded for Kyle Turris on Nov. 5 as part of a three-way deal with Ottawa and Colorado, they landed the No. 2 center they've long sought behind Ryan Johansen.
It turns out that Nashville made another move that flew under the radar. They put winger Kevin Fiala on Turris' line, and Fiala is suddenly one of the most dangerous players on a team full of them.
Since the Turris trade, Fiala has two goals and three assists in five games, potting a goal and adding a helper in Monday night's 5-3 decision over Winnipeg. Fiala looks to continue his recent surge Wednesday night when the Predators host the Montreal Canadiens at Bridgestone Arena.
Watching Fiala struggle through most of the first month of the season, it was easy to forget that he was coming into his own last spring. Fiala's overtime goal in Game 3 essentially served as last rites for Chicago in Nashville's first round Western Conference sweep, but his playoff run ended with a broken leg in Game 1 of the Western semis in St. Louis.
Whether it took Fiala a month to find that form, or that the addition of Turris brought out his best play, there's no question an explosive offense has gotten even deeper.
"We are changing our mindset and playing more offense," Fiala said. "We are attacking the game and that's what we're doing now to find success."
The Predators (12-6-2) figure to find more success in this one. Montreal (8-12-2) has struggled in every facet of the game in coach Claude Julien's first full season, and key injuries haven't helped a thin roster.
All-star goalie Carey Price has been out with a lower-body injury since Nov. 2, and wasn't playing that well when he was in there. What's more, the Canadiens scratched No. 1 defenseman Shea Weber because of a lower-body injury Tuesday night, and it's not known if he'll be able to play against his former team Wednesday night.
Charlie Lindgren has played well for the most part in Price's stead, but he couldn't keep Montreal from a season-long bugaboo in Tuesday night's 3-1 loss at Dallas. The Habs coughed up two goals in 59 seconds late in the second period, the ninth time in 22 games they've allowed two goals in less than a minute.
"When you get scored on, the biggest thing you got to do is push back," Julien said. "Right now, that's not happening."
Lindgren (3-4-1, 2.43, .924) or Antti Niemi, who has played in only one game in relief of Lindgren, could get the start. Or it could be Price in a return to the roster. Regardless, Montreal faces a tall order against Nashville, which has scored 37 goals in its last eight games.
"We've played well offensively, and at times, we've really been humming in the offensive zone," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "We've done some good things."
Pekka Rinne (11-3-2, 2.48, .921) figures to get the call in net for Nashville. Rinne made 32 saves Monday night to garner his sixth win in seven matches.