The Canadiens (2-1-0) are back at home in the Bell Centre to face the undefeated Devils (3-0-0) Sunday Evening. The match is set to start at 6:00 and airs on RDS.
This is the first of three meetings this season between the Habs and the Devils this season and the only one at the Bell Centre. Last season the Habs won just once in four games against the Devs, a 2-1 victory in Jersey. Carey Price came up big in that match, helping the Canadiens preserve the victory by stopping Zach Parise on a penalty shot with just 47 seconds left in regulation.
What to Watch:
Andrei Markov is starting to look like his old self again. The veteran defenseman has 3 goals and an assist in the last 2 games, with all 4 points coming on the power play. Carey Price has been steady so far this season as well. Despite a loss against the Leafs in the season opener, Price has only allowed 4 goals in 3 games, and has an impressive 1.34 GAA and .953 save percentage this season.
In the other crease, Marty Brodeur has been equally impressive for the Devils. Now in his 20th season with the Devils, Brodeur is showing no signs of slowing down with a perfect 3-0-0 record so far, one shutout, a .098 GAA and a .958 save percentage. On offense, Ilya Kovalchuk has been doing his part to keep the Devils on track. Kovy has 2 goals and 2 assists with points in each of the games so far this season.
What’s at Stake:
With a 48 game season and no games outside the conference, every game is important when it comes to the playoff race. New Jersey is probably the toughest team Montreal has had to go up against so far, so Sunday’s contest will help give the team a good idea of where they stand. After a couple of convincing wins the Habs will try to keep the momentum going against last year’s Eastern Conference Champions.
Max Pacioretty is out three to four weeks after undergoing an emergency appendicectomy Saturday. Tomas Kaberle is questionable for Sunday’s game after hit was hit in the face with a puck during practice Saturday. Lars Eller, who was a healthy scratch for the last two games, will fill in for Pacioretty while Yannick Weber will likely take Kaberle’s place is he is forced to miss action. Petteri Nokelainen (back) is also out indefinitely.
The Devils will be without Adam Henrique, a Calder Trophy finalist last season. Henrique has a torn ligament in his thumb.
Montreal’s captain, Brian Gionta, will square off against his younger brother Stephen for just the second time during their NHL careers. Stephen Gionta was a big part of New Jersey’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, despite playing just one regular season game in 2011-2012. Last year’s extended run means that Stephen Gionta has played more playoff games than regular season.
The last time the two Giontas played, on Dec 2, 2010, Brian came out ahead. Montreal’s Gionta scored 11 seconds into the game and the Habs skated away to a 5-1 victory.
Be sure to tune into the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show an hour before the puck drop and the Post Game Show 5 minutes after the final siren.