The Minnesota Wild will go for their third win in a row when they host the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night in Saint Paul, Minn.
Minnesota is coming off back-to-back wins over the Chicago Blackhawks during the weekend. The Wild have won five of their past six contests after enduring a five-game winless drought (0-4-1).
“We have so many good players stepping up on any given day,” Wild forward Mats Zuccarello said. “We’re in a good flow right now.”
They will try to keep that flow going against Montreal, which has dropped two straight games, both in overtime. The Canadiens lost 4-3 against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday and followed that up with a 3-2loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.
It has been a dismal season in Montreal, but the Canadiens have notched at least one point in three straight games and four of their past five.
Montreal will need to find a way to slow down a talented top line in Minnesota led by Zuccarello, Kirill Kaprizov and Ryan Hartman. Kevin Fiala also has increased his production.
The top players have led the Wild’s recent burst of success, forward Marcus Foligno said.
“Teams don’t win unless those guys show up,” Foligno said. “They’ve been doing it all year. I know there’s some games here and there maybe you don’t see it as much, but for the majority of the season, they’ve been awesome.”
Kaprizov leads Minnesota with 47 points (17 goals, 30 assists) in 36 games. Zuccarello is next with 36 points (11 goals, 25 assists) in 31 games, and Hartman ranks third with 32 points (18 goals, 14 assists) in 37 games.
Fiala and Foligno round out the top five with 27 and 26 points, respectively. Fiala has 10 goals and 17 assists, and Foligno has notched 16 goals and 10 assists.
Montreal’s top scorer is Nick Suzuki, who has 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists) in 40 games. Tyler Toffoli has 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) and Jonathan Drouin has 20 points (six goals, 14 assists), but Drouin recently was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.
Christian Dvorak ranks fourth with 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) and Artturi Lehkonen has tallied 15 points (five goals, 10 assists).
A lower-body injury to Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen has prompted the team to turn to backups Sam Montembeault and Cayden Primeau. Montembeault is 2-6-4 with a 3.73 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage, and Primeau is 1-3-1 with a 3.84 GAA and an .898 save percentage.
Montembeault has impressed Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme as Allen’s injury has led to more opportunities in net.
“He made good progress,” Ducharme said. “He had some things to work on, which he did with (goaltending coach Eric Raymond). We see that everything is gradually coming together, a bit like a puzzle. He’s more and more comfortable, and it’s paying off for him and our team, too.”
The Wild have split goaltending duties between Cam Talbot (15-8-1, 3.00 GAA, .909 save percentage) and Kaapo Kahkonen (9-2-2, 2.48 GAA, .922 save percentage). Kahkonen is coming off back-to-back victories over the Blackhawks.
–Field Level Media