Mike Halford

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Devils chase Howard with three goals on six shots

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Jimmy Howard came into tonight’s action mired in a bit of a slump, having lost three games in a row.

Things didn’t get any better.

Howard lasted just over 14 minutes into Tuesday’s game against the Devils, getting hooked after allowing three goals on six shots — with all three goals coming in a span of just 2:12.

Kyle Palmieri got things going on the power play to make it 1-0 New Jersey and then, just 42 seconds later, Jordin Tootoo scored his third of the year to push the lead to two.

At the 14:17 mark, David Schlemko scored his third goal of the year — on an assist from Palmieri — to chase Howard for good. Petr Mrazek took over and with less than 90 seconds to go in the period, Dylan Larkin scored to make the score 3-1.

Despite Howard’s lack of wins lately, he’s actually posted pretty good numbers — a 2.49 GAA and .932 save percentage over the aforementioned three-game losing streak.

It’ll be interesting to see how — or, if — tonight’s performance affects his playing time moving forward.

WATCH LIVE: Montreal at Minnesota

Jason Zucker, Mikko Koivu, Ryan Suter

Tonight, the Canadiens and Wild will meet for the first time this season — you can catch all the action on TV (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) or online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

The Habs come into tonight’s action mired in their worst slump of the year, having lost four straight while going 2-8-0 overall for the month of December.

A big part of the reason for that slide has been goaltending — or, lack thereof. Mike Condon and Dustin Tokarski have struggled to fill Carey Price‘s very large skates and, as a result, Montreal has slowly slid down the standings.

Minnesota’s had no such problem in goal.

Both Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper have been very good this year and, tonight, it’ll be Kuemper making the start. That should bode well for the Wild — Minnesota has at least one point in each game where Kuemper has a decision this season (3-0-4).

Last games

Montreal: Lost 5-1 in Nashville on Monday night, a game in which Condon was hooked in favor of Tokarski. Montreal’s one goal of offense marked the fourth straight game it has been held under two goals.

Minnesota: Lost 6-3 to Dallas on Monday night, a game in which the Wild led 2-0 after the first period, but were outscored 6-1 over the final 40 minutes.

Related:

Wild could be key players at the deadline

Therrien calls out goalies after fourth straight loss

 

Former Bruins first-rounder Caron to make Blues debut tonight — in Boston

Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens - Game Three
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Jordan Caron was taken by Boston with the 25th overall pick in 2009, and went on to play 134 games for the team over a five-year span.

Since getting traded in March, Caron has spent time with the Colorado Avalanche, the AHL’s Chicago Wolves and now, the St. Louis Blues — and tonight, Caron will make his St. Louis debut in a familiar place:

TD Garden.

“We really liked him (in training camp),” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Caron, per the Post-Dispatch. “We really liked his strength on the puck. He had a slow start but he’s played great down there lately.

“He deserves a chance to play.”

Caron, 25, was the subject of heavy criticism during his time in Boston, failing to secure a regular place in the lineup despite several chances to do so. After an equally troubling stint with the Avs — Caron went pointless in 19 games last year — there were serious questions about his ability to stick at the NHL level.

But a strong showing with the Wolves has turned things around.

Caron has a team-high nine goals and 14 points through 25 games this year. Tonight, he’ll take Scott Gomez‘s spot in the lineup as the Blues look to rebound from Monday’s loss 4-3 loss in Philly, a game St. Louis led 3-0 after 30 minutes.

Goalie nods: Bernier goes back-to-back for Leafs

Jonathan Bernier
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It’s a small sample size, but Jonathan Bernier will take it.

After going winless over the first 10 weeks of the season, Bernier’s now playing his best hockey of the season. He’s recorded back-to-back victories and, as a result, will make his third straight start — and the second in as many nights — when the Leafs take on the Coyotes in Arizona.

Bernier’s run of strong play began on Saturday against his old team, the Los Angeles Kings, when he posted 26 saves in a 5-0 win, his first shutout of the year.

Last night, Bernier made 24 saves on 28 shots in a 7-4 win over the Avs at the Pepsi Center, meaning that — over this modest two-game win streak — he’s posted an impressive .926 save percentage.

For the Coyotes, Louis Domingue will get the start in goal.

Elsewhere…

Jake Allen, on the hook for all four goals in St. Louis’ collapse in Philly last night, will be back in goal when the Blues take on the Bruins. Boston will likely counter with Tuukka Rask.

— Anaheim appears primed to start John Gibson after he came on in relief of Frederik Andersen during last night’s loss in Brooklyn. The Rangers are starting Henrik Lundqvist.

Cory Schneider versus Jimmy Howard when the Devils take on the Red Wings in Detroit.

— No Ryan Miller for Vancouver tonight (read more here), so Jacob Markstrom starts for the Canucks in Tampa Bay, while the Bolts go with Ben Bishop.

Craig Anderson gets the nod after Andrew Hammond started two of Ottawa’s last three games. The Panthers, meanwhile, will give Roberto Luongo the start.

— After calling out both Mike Condon and Dustin Tokarski last night (read more here), Habs head coach Michel Therrien will go with Condon in Minnesota. The Wild are going with Darcy Kuemper.

Corey Crawford in for Chicago tonight as the ‘Hawks take on Dallas. No word yet on a Stars starter.

Michael Hutchinson gets a rare start for the Jets against Calgary, this after replacing Connor Hellebuyck in Monday’s loss to Edmonton. The Falmes are going back to Karri Ramo.

— The Sharks will go with their usual No. 1, Martin Jones, in a big all-California rivalry game against the Kings. L.A. has yet to name a starter.

Pens hire Donatelli to replace Sullivan as AHL coach

Mike Sullivan
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On Tuesday, Pittsburgh announced that longtime minor league coach Clark Donatelli has been named the new bench boss of its AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Donatelli, 50, takes over for Mike Sullivan, who was promoted to head coach with the Penguins after Mike Johnston was fired on Dec. 12.

“Clark Donatelli brings a wealth of head coaching experience and has been with the organization for five years,” Pens assistant GM Jason Botterill said, per the club’s website. “Donatelli has helped develop 11 players in [ECHL] Wheeling that are currently on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton roster.

“Coach Donatelli and Associate Coach Jay Leach will make a dynamic team that will continue the path set by Mike Sullivan.”

Leach was the interim head coach following Sullivan’s move to the parent club.

A former NHLer with Minnesota and Boston, Donatelli was the coach in Wheeling for the last four seasons. He was the only coach in Nailers history to take the team to consecutive playoff appearances.