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Montreal Canadiens (18-8-2) at Detroit Red Wings (17-6-3) – Friday,
December 10, 2010

Two top clubs in the NHL face off  Saturday night, as the Montreal Canadiens make the
trek to Detroit to face the Red Wings.  Both teams are leading their
respective divisions, and although Montreal may have more wins and points,
Detroit has 2 games in hand.  The teams play each other only once this
regular season, and similarly met just once last year, with Detroit winning in a
shootout, 3-2.  In that game, Mike Cammalleri scored both goals for
Montreal while Brad Stuart and Pavel Datsyuk scored powerplay goals for the Red
Wings.  In net, Carey Price made 32 saves, but Jimmy Howard stopped 16
shots and all shootout attempts for the win.  Montreal is currently riding
a 3-game winning streak and are 6-3-1 over their last 10 games.  The Red
Wings have lost 3 games in a row, and are 5-3-2 over that same span.

Carey Price (17-7-2, 1.92
GAA, .936 SV%) will start versus the Red Wings, but might earn a game’s rest on
Saturday, permitting Alex Auld (1-1-0, 2.00 GAA, .949 SV%) to play against the
Toronto Maple Leafs.  Jimmy Howard (15-4-2, 2.54 GAA, .914 SV%) has
played the majority of starts this season, as Chris Osgood’s play (2-2-1, 2.77 GAA, .891
SV%) has left a lot to be desired.  Price is a career 1-1-1 against the Red
Wings, with a 2.27 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.

Tomas Plekanec (9-16-25) leads all Canadiens with 25 points, but is tied with
Mike Cammalleri (9-10-19), Andrei Kostitsyn (9-10-19) and Brian Gionta (9-9-18)
for the goal-scoring lead.  The leaders notwithstanding, it is an unlikely
duo on fire for the Canadiens, as Roman Hamrlik (3-12-15) and Lars Eller (2-4-6)
have recorded 6 and 4 points, respectively, over the last 4 games. 
Detroit’s perennial scoring leaders are unchanged as Pavel Datsyuk (9-22-31),
Henrik Zetterberg (9-17-26), Nicklas Lidstrom (3-18-21) and Johan Franzen
(13-8-21) top the scorers for Detroit.  Datsyuk has had the hot stick for
the Red Wings of late, tallying 2 goals and 7 assists in his last 6 games.

There aren’t huge discrepancies when it comes to comparing the special teams
for Montreal and Detroit.  Detroit’s powerplay bears a slight edge over
Montreal, as their 20.7% success rate tops that of Montreal (18%). 
Nevertheless, it is Montreal’s NHL-best penalty-killing (89.3%) that ranks
higher than Detroit’s play with the man disadvantage (85%).  Of note,
Montreal’s powerplay has been performing convincingly over the last 7 games, as
the Habs have converted 6 of their last 20 opportunities (30%).

Detroit will ice a mostly healthy squad, with Mike Modano (wrist surgery) the
only Red Wing on the Injury Reserve.  Montreal is still without Andrei
Markov, who underwent season-ending knee surgery this past Wednesday. 
Scott Gomez, day-to-day with a lower-body injury, is making the trip to Detroit; there is no word whether
healthy scratches Dustin Boyd or P.K. Subban will drawn back into the line-up in
his stead.  There was no practice on Thursday, but the forward lines at
practice were as follows:

Kostitsyn – Plekanec – Gionta

Cammalleri – Halpern – Moen

Pouliot – Eller – Darche

Pyatt – Boyd – Lapierre

Game-time is 7:00 EST and the game can be seen on RDS, CBC and the NHL
Network (US).

Preview written by Matt Dilworth