Habs continue road trip against Wild

(SportsNetwork.com) – The Montreal Canadiens will shoot for a 2-0 start to a
four-game road trip when they visit the Minnesota Wild for Wednesday’s battle
at Xcel Energy Center.

The Canadiens entered the opener of this swing on a three-game slide and
coming off getting swept by lowly Buffalo in a home-and-home series. However,
Montreal was able to end the skid by notching a 4-3 regulation decision Monday
in Colorado.

Montreal will be playing tonight’s game with a heavy heart following the death
of Canadiens great Jean Beliveau, who passed away Tuesday. He was 83.

The Hall of Fame forward led the Habs to 10 Stanley Cup Championships and
played with the Canadiens from 1950-71, notching 507 goals and 712 assists in
1,125 games. He also tallied 79 goals and 176 points in 162 playoff contests,
retiring as the NHL’s all-time leading playoff scorer.

“Like millions of hockey fans who followed the life and the career of Jean
Beliveau, the Canadiens today mourn the passing of a man whose contribution to
the development of our sport and our society was unmeasurable,” Canadiens
president Geoff Molson said in a statement. “Jean Beliveau was a great leader,
a gentleman and arguably the greatest ambassador our game has ever known.”

The Habs have a chance to honor Beliveau tonight by taking over first place in
the Atlantic Division. Montreal is one point behind idle Tampa Bay.

Montreal trailed the Avalanche by scores of 2-1 and 3-2 the last time out, but
rallied for the victory. P.K. Subban tied the tilt at 3-3 with 4:44 remaining
in the second period and Max Pacioretty notched the winning goal late in the

Pacioretty gave his team a 4-3 lead with 6:06 to play as he came down on a 2-
on-1 break and blasted it past Colorado’s Calvin Pickard for his 12th goal of
the season.

“They’re a team that has a lot of speed and a lot of weapons on the ice,” said
Pacioretty. “This game was a bit of fresh air after losing those past three

Carey Price turned aside nine shots for Montreal in the final frame, helping
his club hang on for the victory. Price turned away 26 shots and improved to
14-5-1 on the season.

Andrei Markov and Subban each had a goal and an assist and Jiri Sekac
also scored for the Canadiens, who avoided their first four-game slide of the

The Habs also halted a two-game slide on the road and pushed their record as
the guest to 8-4-1. The club’s current swing will continue with Friday’s stop
in Chicago before ending the following night in Dallas.

Montreal is hoping for another win tonight as it attempts to continue its
recent dominance of the Wild. The Canadiens recorded a 4-1 home win over
Minnesota on Nov. 8, giving the Habs wins in two straight, four of five and
six of the last eight meetings.

The clubs each have three wins over the six all-time encounters in St. Paul.

Minnesota is aiming to rebound after losing a shootout decision Saturday
against the St. Louis Blues.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored in the final round of the shootout to help the
visiting Blues record a 3-2 win at the XEC. After Jake Allen stopped a Jason
Pominville wrister, Tarasenko skated in and snapped a wrister into the left
corner of the net for the win.

Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise scored goals for the Wild, who have lost three of
their last five. Niklas Backstrom stopped 24 shots in the defeat.

“It’s frustrating that we didn’t get the win,” said Parise. “I thought we
played well enough.”

Saturday’s tilt began a four-game homestand for the Wild, who are 7-2-1 as the
host this season compared to a 6-7-0 mark away from the Gopher State.

Darcy Kuemper will get the start in net for Minnesota tonight. It will be the
third career appearance and second start against the Canadiens for Kuemper,
who is 0-1-0 with a 4.86 goals against average in this matchup.

Price is expected to go for Montreal and owns a 4-2-0 record and 2.49 GAA in
his career against the Wild.