Goalie nods: Jimmy Howard looks to slow down Canadiens

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The Montreal Canadiens have been an unstoppable force so far this season with a 12-1-1 record entering play on Saturday.

Carey Price, who has posted a 19-2-0 record since the start of last season including a perfect 9-0-0 mark this season, has been one of the big stories in that start. But while he is continuing to show that he is the best goaltender in the NHL, there has been another interesting goalie storyline unfolding this season.

That story belongs to Detroit’s Jimmy Howard, the man that will be getting the start at the other end of the ice when the two teams face off on Saturday night.

After pretty much losing his starting job to Petr Mrazek, Howard has been doing his part to win that job back this season (Saturday will be his fourth consecutive start) and carries a league-leading .961 save percentage into Saturday’s game against Montreal. He has allowed more than one goal in just two of his appearances this season, and has yet to allow more than two goals in any one game.

The Red Wings are only 8-6-1  to start the season, but there is no telling where they would be without Howard playing the way he has in his six appearances.

He will have his hands full on Saturday against a Montreal team that is coming off of a huge win against the Los Angeles Kings in what was perhaps their best all-around performance of the season.

Given the way the Price is playing (the Canadiens are 69-18-6 with him in the lineup over the past three years) Howard will probably have very little margin for error on Saturday and will need to continue his incredible start to the season to give the Red Wings a chance.

Elsewhere…

— After getting pulled during their most recent loss to Boston, Sergei Bobrovsky will be back in the lineup for Columbus on Saturday night when they host the St. Louis Blues. He will go up against Blues starter Jake Allen.

— Nothing official out of Carolina and Washington at this point, but all signs point to Philipp Grubauer going for the Capitals (Braden Holtby played on Friday) while Cam Ward was the first goalie off the ice for the Hurricanes at the morning skate.

Matt Murray will get the call for the fourth time in six games for the Pittsburgh Penguins when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs. Murray comes into the game with a .957 save percentage in his first three starts. No word on the starter for the Maple Leafs, but with Frederik Andersen starting on Friday it is possible he gets the night off.

— The Flyers’ goaltending issues continued in a 6-3 loss to Toronto when Steve Mason had another miserable start. Michal Neuvirth is expected to get the call on Saturday against the Minnesota Wild. Devan Dubnyk goes again for Minnesota.

— After the backups started for Buffalo and New Jersey on Friday, the starters return to the crease on Saturday when they play the second half of their back-to-back. That means it will be Cory Schneider (Devils) going against Robin Lehner (Sabres).

Jaroslav Halak played just 22 minutes on Thursday before getting pulled against Tampa Bay after giving up three goals on 16 shots. The Islanders are going back to him on Saturday against the Florida Panthers as he attempts to bust out of his early season slump. The Panthers are going with Roberto Luongo who has won just one of his past five starts.

— After a slow start to the season Martin Jones seems to be getting back on track with back-to-back impressive starts. He goes for a third straight on Saturday against Ben Bishop and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

— Barring an unforeseen change, expect Tuukka Rask to go for the Bruins as he looks to improve his early season record to 9-1-0. Louis Domingue and the Arizona Coyotes will face him.

Pekka Rinne goes for Nashville against the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have yet to announce their starter.

— Flames coach Glen Gulutzan wants his team to stop playing with a fear of failure. What would help more is a strong game from goaltender Brian Elliott on Saturday against the New York Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist will be in the New York net.

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