Goalie nods: Bruins will start Gustavsson against rival Canadiens

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Saturday’s game between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins will be a battle of the backups.

Montreal will give Mike Condon a fifth straight start with Carey Price nursing a lower-body injury. Condon has been terrific this season, as he’s posted a 5-0-1 record to go along with a 1.50 goals-against-average and a .941 save percentage.

It’s no surprise that the Bruins will turn to Gustafsson and not Tuukka Rask.

Boston will play two games this weekend and Rask has an ugly 3-14-3 record in his career against the Habs.

He will likely face the Islanders on Sunday.

Elsewhere…

Roberto Luongo is expected to be in goal for Florida. The Kings are expected to counter with Jonathan Quick.

-Michael Neuvirth will make his third consecutive start for the Flyers. Ondrej Pavelec will be between the pipes for the Jets. Pavelec has 4-3-1 record with a 2.45 goals-against-average and a .919 save percentage this season.

Andrew Hammond will make third start of the season for Ottawa. The ‘Canes will go with Cam Ward after Eddie Lack lost to the Stars on Friday.

James Reimer may start his second game in two nights in Saturday’s clash against the Capitals. Washington will start Braden Holtby, who’s 2-2-0 in his last four starts.

Jake Allen will face-off against Pekka Rinne when the Predators host the Blues. Allen is 4-1-0 in his last five starts and hasn’t allowed more than two goals in each of those contests.

-The Tampa Bay Lightning will start Ben Bishop tonight. The Wild will counter with Devan Dubnyk, who has allowed three goals or more in each of his last four starts.

Henrik Lundqvist is expected to get the call for the Rangers. Mike Smith will be in the crease for the ‘Yotes.

-After watching from the bench in Friday’s game against Edmonton, Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start for Pittsburgh. Karri Ramo will get his fourth straight start for the Flames.

Frederik Andersen and Martin Jones are expected to square off in Saturday’s tilt between the Ducks and Sharks.

 

Montreal 4, New York 1: Isles’ offensive woes continue, Weise keeps rolling

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The Islanders got their best scorer back on Thursday, but it didn’t make much of a difference.

Despite returning John Tavares (illness) from a three-game absence, the Isles kept struggling offensively on Thursday night, scoring just once in a 4-1 defeat to the Habs in Montreal.

The Canadiens, as has often been the case early this season, rode the unexpected offensive surge of Dale Weise, who scored the opener. The goal was Weise’s eighth of the year, putting him on par with the likes of Patrick Kane, Tyler Seguin and Joe Pavelski among the NHL’s leaders.

The goal also gave Weise sole possession of the team lead, moving one ahead of Max Pacioretty.

New York — who, over a previous five-game stretch from Oct. 12-23, scored 21 times — only wishes it could get such secondary scoring right now.

Kyle Okposo notched the lone marker tonight, just the Isles’ eighth in the last five games. When the 60 minutes were up, the team was once again looking at a supporting cast of scorers that continued to not get the job done — Ryan Strome has just one goal in 12 games, Mikhail Grabovski two in 13, Nikolay Kulemin two in 13 as well.

As for the Canadiens, this was their third straight win, coming on the strength of goals from four different skaters — Weise, David Desharnais, Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Plekanec. They also got another stellar effort from backup netminder Mike Condon, who stopped 18 of 19 shots faced.

Condon is now 5-0-1 since taking over starting duties from the injured Carey Price.

Montreal loses Carey Price to lower-body injury (Updated)

The Canadian Press via AP
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The reigning Vezina and Hart Trophy winner will not be available to the Montreal Canadiens tonight.

The Canadiens announced that goaltender Carey Price is dealing with a lower-body injury. They’ve recalled Dustin Tokarski as a result.

After a commanding 2014-15 campaign, Price picked up where he left off by posting a 2.01 GAA and .936 save percentage in eight games last month. He got Friday’s contest off, so he likely would have played tonight against the Winnipeg Jets if he was healthy.

Montreal will instead go with Mike Condon, per TSN’s John Lu. Condon is a 25-year-old rookie with only three games worth of NHL experience under his belt, but he’s won all of those contests and has only allowed a total of five goals.

The Canadiens lead the league with a 10-2-0 record going into today’s action. Winnipeg earned a 3-2 win over Columbus last night to improve to 7-3-1.

Update: Price will be out for at least a week, per the Canadiens’ Twitter feed.

Canadiens continue to look legit, best Blues

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One can imagine a critic saying “Sure, the Montreal Canadiens look hot, but can they beat one of the West’s best teams?”

They answered that question with an emphatic “Yes” on Tuesday, beating the St. Louis Blues by a score of 3-0.

This was already the best start in Montreal’s richly storied history, yet this raised the bar higher, as they’re now 7-0-0.

As Jason Brough and Mike Halford discuss in the video above this post, the Canadiens have been about more than just Carey Price being Carey Price. They generally stood toe-to-toe with St. Louis possession-wise, not an easy task against one of the league’s more relentless squads.

This Alexander Semin goal also ventures the question: “What if Montreal’s supporting cast can get it going?”

Now … as much as Montreal’s not just about Price, he’s still red-hot.

Price dazzled with a 38-save shutout; he’s now allowed just one goal in his past three games. He also owns six of Montreal’s seven wins.

Yep, they sure look hot, but let’s not forget that it’s merely October. If any team can remind the Habs that early success doesn’t guarantee playoff glory, it’s the (very good) team Montreal beat tonight.

Also:

Blues can complete Canadian sweep Tuesday in Montreal

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The St. Louis Blues are four-for-four on their five-game Canadian road trip. After besting the Jets in a “street fight” yesterday, they can complete the perfect journey Tuesday in Montreal against the undefeated Canadiens.

Victories in Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver preceded Sunday’s win in Winnipeg. The Blues (5-1-0) have only lost once this season, 3-2 to the Wild in Minnesota.

Vladimir Tarasenko is leading the way offensively, as expected. But he’s not the only one who’s been scoring. Alexander Steen has three goals. Troy BrouwerScottie UpshallJori Lehtera, and rookie d-man Colton Parayko have two each. Add it up and no team has scored more goals (21) than St. Louis has.

The Blues didn’t get a ton of preseason love from the pundits. This is a team, after all, that’s repeatedly burned prognosticators with postseason letdowns. Perhaps people just got tired of picking them to win the Stanley Cup, only to watch them fall in the first round.

But at the very least, it looks like the Blues will once again win their share of games in the regular season.

Say, is it too early to debate which goalie should start in the playoffs?

Nope: