Tonight the Minnesota Wild play host to the Montreal Canadiens and will look to start their homestand with a win. The Wild lost the first match of the season against the Canadiens, 4-1 at the Bell Centre on November 9th. Minnesota owns an all-time record of 5-6-3 against Montreal and 3-2-1 at Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota returns to inter-conference play tonight, posting a 5-6-0 record against the East this season. Jason Pominville scored the lone Wild goal in the loss and it was actually the last time Pominville lit the lamp. We have yet to hear what the forwards will be where tonight. We do know that Ryan Suter will not be able to dress tonight in what has been diagnosed as an "illness" and no the mumps yet. Christian Folin has been recalled and will skate with Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella will be paired with Jared Spurgeon and Keith Ballard with Nate Prosser.
Neither Niklas Backstrom or Darcy Kuemper have seen much of the Canadiens in their career. Kuemper is 0-1-0 with a 4.86 GAA and a .825 SV% in two games (one start). Backstrom is 1-1-0 with a 3.10 GAA and a .905 SV% in four games against Montreal (three starts). Minnesota will obviously have to figure out how to beat Carey Price who is one of the best in the business and currently leading all goalies allstar voting. Minnesota has not allowed a power-play goal in 10 opportunities over its last four games and ranks second in the NHL with an 88.7% penalty kill percentage (63-for-71) including a 93.9% at home (1st in NHL).
Montreal and the NHL community lost one of its most beloved figures last night as Jean Beliveau passed away at the age of 83. As Wild Chief of Amateur Scouting and former Montreal great, Guy Lpatione put it: "It's almost like the Montreal Canadiens lost their dad." Check back at 6:45 for the gamethread and starting lineups.