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Canadiens, Predators look to get back on track

Jan 9, 2023; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros (74) makes a save in the third period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The Nashville Predators and host Montreal Canadiens will each look for a bounce-back win when they face off on Thursday night.

The Predators’ four-game winning streak came to a halt with a 2-1 loss to the host Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, while the Canadiens haven’t played since getting blanked 4-0 by the visiting Seattle Kraken on Monday.

After Toronto took a 1-0 lead on John Tavares’ first-period goal, the Predators equalized when Filip Forsberg scored off assists from Juuso Parssinen and Matt Duchene at the 1:46 mark of the second period.

The game remained tied until Mitchell Marner’s power-play goal with 1:15 left in the third period won it for the Maple Leafs.

Nashville goalie Juuse Saros turned aside 33 of 35 shots to continue his stellar play after stopping 102 of 105 shots in his previous two starts combined — 64 in a win at Carolina last Thursday and 38 in a victory over Ottawa on Jan. 9.

“The Carolina game brought everything to light (but) he’s a hard goalie to beat in multiple ways,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. “He’s not the biggest guy, but he fights through traffic and sees plays.

“Even in this league, to be an elite goalie now, the way power plays and rush plays are, a lot of East-West cross slot passes, his ability to move laterally and anticipate those plays makes him special.”

Forsberg has a team-high 17 goals to go along with 20 assists for a team-leading 37 points, while Roman Josi has 10 goals and a team-high 22 assists for 32 points, one ahead of Duchene’s 31 points on 11 goals and 20 assists.

The Canadiens fell behind early against the Kraken and never recovered on Monday.

Eeli Tolvanen, Daniel Sprong and Vince Dunn scored first-period goals to stake Seattle to a 3-0 lead before Matty Beniers capped the scoring with an empty-net goal with just over a minute to play.

Sam Montembeault (6-6-2, 3.42 GAA) made 37 saves for the Canadiens, who were outshot 41-21 as the Canadiens dropped to 1-7-1 in their past nine games.

“We knew what they were about,” Montreal captain Nick Suzuki said afterward. “They’re playing good hockey and they’ve got a fast team, fast players, so we knew what we were facing tonight and just didn’t handle it good.”

Suzuki has 15 goals and a team-high 19 assists for a team-high 34 points, while Cole Caufield has a team-high 23 goals and nine assists for 32 points. Kirby Dach has 24 points on six goals and 18 assists, with Christian Dvorak adding 17 points on seven goals and 10 assists.

Nashville defeated the visiting Canadiens 6-3 on Jan. 3.

Mattias Ekholm, Tommy Novak and Roman Josi each had a goal and an assist for the Predators, who jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 10:42 and never looked back.

Cody Glass, Colton Sissons and Duchene also scored, while Nino Niederreiter had three assists and Mikael Granlund added two for Nashville, which received 24 saves from Saros.

Caufield, Josh Anderson and Brendan Gallagher scored for Montreal, with Montembeault making 28 saves in the loss.

–Field Level Media