Montreal Canadiens (4-7-1 SU, 2-10 PL, 8-3-1 O/U) vs. Minnesota Wild (4-4-2 SU, 6-4 PL, 6-3-1 O/U)
NHL: Thursday, November 2, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. EST
The Line: Minnesota -130/Montreal +110 Total: 5.5
The Montreal Canadiens will be trying to win their third game in a row when they visit the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center on Thursday night. Montreal started the season 2-7-1 but has since defeated the Rangers and Senators. The Wild had won two straight before losing to Winnipeg on Tuesday.
The Canadiens scored no more than two regulation goals in seven of their first eight games this season. It is safe to say the offensive doldrums are now a thing of the past. Montreal has lit the lamp at least five times in three of its last four contests. Unsurprisingly, all three such games were victories and the aberration was a shutout loss to Los Angeles. The Canadiens were especially prolific on the offensive end during an 8-3 rout of Ottawa on Monday. Charles Hudon scored his first two NHL goals and also added an assist, while Artturi Lehkonen also scored twice. Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, and Tomas Plekanec were the other goal-scorers for Montreal, which had connected on six of its first 15 shots as a team.
“Offensively we’ve been a team that hasn’t scored much, but five the last game and eight tonight so I can see the confidence coming back with the players,” head coach Claude Julien commented. “You can’t keep losing hockey games and feel good about yourself, but you start winning and confidence comes back.”
The Wild have scored almost half of their total goals this season in third periods–15 of 31 to be exact. Their only lamp-lighter on Tuesday also came during the final frame, but it was not enough in a 2-1 loss to Winnipeg. Against the Penguins last Saturday, Minnesota broke a 1-1 tie with a third-period tally by Mikko Koivu that gave the home team a 2-1 victory. In last Thursday’s 6-4 defeat of the Islanders, the Wild found the back of the net twice during the first seven minutes of the third period.
Jared Spurgeon is one of three defensemen currently leading their team in points, joining Shea Weber of Montreal (9) and Detroit’s Mike Green. Spurgeon has eight points (one goal and seven assists), tying him atop Minnesota’s chart along with Eric Staal and Chris Stewart.
The Montreal Canadiens are:
- 4-11 in their last 15 overall
- 1-5 in their last six road games
- 0-5 in their last five games against the Western Conference
The Minnesota Wild are:
- 10-3 in their last 13 games against the Atlantic Division
- 37-14 in their last 51 games against teams with winning percentages under .400
- 11-4 in their last 15 home games against teams with road winning percentages under .400
Montreal may have found its mojo, but Minnesota is tied for the fewest goals allowed in the Central Division with 30. That number would also lead the Atlantic Division and be tied in the Metropolitan Division. Canadiens’ forward Nikita Scherbak, who was injured in last Saturday’s win over the Rangers, has a knee injury which will require surgery. He will be out for a minimum of six weeks. Montreal is 4-11 in its last 15 overall, 1-5 in its last six on the road, 0-5 in its last five against the Western Conference, and 7-20 in its last 27 against the Central Division. The Wild are 10-3 in their last 13 against the Atlantic Division, 37-14 in their last 51 against opponents with winning percentages under .400, 11-4 in their last 15 at home against opponents with road winning percentages under .400, 0-5 in the last five meetings between the two teams, and 0-4 in their last four trips to Minnesota. Count on those trends continuing.