WATCH LIVE: Montreal at Minnesota

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

 

NHL ON NBCSN DOUBLEHEADER: Canadiens vs. Wild; Sharks vs. Kings

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2015-16 campaign tonight when the Minnesota Wild host the Montreal Canadiens at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

December hasn’t been kind to the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs are 2-8-0 this month and they’ve scored more than two goals just once during that stretch.

Montreal has been forced to use several players from their AHL affiliate because of all the injuries they’ve had to endure.

They’ve been without star goaltender Carey Price for two long stretches this year, while the loss of forward Brendan Gallagher has also been huge.

With Gallagher, they are 16-4-2, but since he broke two fingers after blocking a shot on Nov. 22, they’re 4-8-1.

The Canadiens are beyond frustrated at this point. They’ve carried the play in most of their losses, but that’s no consolation prize for the team.

“I’m saying the same thing every day,” captain Max Pacioretty said after a 6-2 loss to Dallas on Saturday. “Just look at my interview for the past 10 games. It’s the same f—ing thing … it’s a joke.”

How did Montreal respond?

They dropped a 5-1 decision in Nashville last night.

Like Montreal, the Wild have dropped games to the Stars and Predators since Saturday, but as a whole, December has been kinder to them.

Minnesota has a 6-2-2 this month and they currently own the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.

The Wild are a deep team and they’ve been getting offensive contributions from several different players on the roster.

Zach Parise has 10 points in his last eight contests, Nino Niederreiter has four points in his last four games, Mikael Granlund has 13 points in his last 16 and even Jason Pominville has found his offensive touch after going 21 games without a goal to start the season.

But one player who always seems to fly under the radar is Ryan Suter.

The 30-year-old has five goals and 24 points while averaging 28:18 of ice time in ’15-16.

Following that game, NBCSN will have the late game between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. You can watch that game by clicking here.

The Sharks are back on the West Coast after going to Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Chicago.

The trip was somewhat of a success, as they beat the Habs and Leafs, but lost to the Senators and Blackhawks (in overtime).

The Kings and Sharks split the first two meetings of the season. San Jose won 5-1 in the regular season opener, but Los Angeles responded with a 4-1 just over two weeks later.

Both teams are led by elite defensemen.

San Jose’s Brent Burns had been a force offensively this year. The 30-year-old has 12 goals (on pace for 30) and 28 points in 33 games this year.

Drew Doughty‘s offensive numbers aren’t as high, but the all-around defenseman 19 points this season while averaging over 27 minutes per game.

These two teams are the one and two seeds in a weak Pacific Division.

The Kings currently hold an eight-point lead over the Sharks.

 

This goal symbolizes Dallas’ dominant win vs. Montreal

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On paper, this should be a clash of titans: the top team in the NHL (Dallas Stars) hosts the East’s second-ranked club (Montreal Canadiens).

Instead, it’s felt a bit like hammer-on-nail, as the Stars hold a 4-1 lead heading into the first intermission.

There are plenty of impressive moments from Dallas, including Jason Spezza‘s fake-shot-then-goal, but the sequence that finished with Tyler Seguin‘s 4-1 tally captured the one-sided spirit of this one.

It’s not just the fact that it features a goal by one of the Stars’ dangerous scorers. There’s also a big hit by Jamie Benn on Jeff Petry, which did not draw a penalty call.

Check out that span of play in the video above. Here’s the Benn hit in GIF form as well:

Petry suffered an injury that ended his night early.

There was also a questionable check by Patrick Eaves and some other memorable moments so far, even if the game hasn’t been very even.

Here’s the Spezza goal in case you want to gape in awe:

Sometimes this Dallas offense is so dangerous, it almost feels unfair.

Update: Not a whole lot changed in the third, with the Stars ultimately winning 6-2.

Senators coach Cameron furious, in ‘shock’ after sluggish start in Montreal

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The Ottawa Senators set a franchise record Saturday. However, this isn’t a historical moment to boast about.

The Senators gave up 27 shots — and two goals — to the Montreal Canadiens in the opening 20 minutes, leaving their goalie Craig Anderson to face the onslaught before he was pulled in the second period. According to Sportsnet Stats, the 27 shots allowed is the most in any period in Senators franchise history.

On the other hand, the Habs tied a franchise record for most first period shots, again, as per Sportsnet Stats.

In total, Anderson allowed three goals on 31 shots. He was upset, slamming his stick against the post to display his frustration after allowing the second goal, which was the result of an Ottawa turnover.

Afterward, Senators head coach Dave Cameron appeared furious in his post-game scrum, as per video on TSN.ca.

He expressed “shock” with his team’s horrendous start. On the subject of how ticked off his goalie appeared, Cameron answered to reporters: “Wouldn’t you be? He had every right to be upset at how we defended today.”

In the end, the Senators suffered a 3-1 loss to their Atlantic Division rivals.

“Whatever decisions we made (in the first) were the wrong ones anyway. Even when we did something right it was wrong,” said Erik Karlsson, as per the Ottawa Sun.

“We sucked in the first period. That’s pretty much about it and then we couldn’t figure our way out of it for the (last) two periods.”

 

 

 

Holtby carries Caps to sixth straight win as they edge Canadiens

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Some nights, the Montreal Canadiens will get by without Carey Price. Nights like Thursday probably make his absence more glaring, however.

That’s because the guy in the other team’s net was lights-out; Braden Holtby was the main reason why the Washington Capitals contained the Canadiens in a 3-2 win.

This gives the Capitals a six-game winning streak and quite the run. They’re now 10-2-1 in their last 13 games.

Washington now has the tiebreaker edge on the New York Rangers, who fell 2-1 to the Colorado Avalanche on this same evening.

This is a pretty convincing difference, too, as the Capitals own one more win (18 to New York’s 17) with three games in hand.

Really, the bigger debate may be: did Washington just make an argument that they are the East’s top team instead of Montreal?

Bat that one around in the comments, even if it’s ultimately a ponderous debate for December.

It’s tough for anyone to assemble any kind of argument that Holtby was the best goalie on the ice in Montreal, though.