Consecutive shutout victories have the Nashville Predators back on track while in pursuit of a playoff spot in the crowded Western Conference.
Looking for a third straight win, the Predators continue their season-high five-game road trip Tuesday night against a Montreal Canadiens club in need of some offense.
Thanks to the stellar play of netminder Juuse Saros, Nashville (34-26-8, 76 points) followed a three-game skid by twice shutting out Central Division-rival Dallas in a home-and-home set. Saros stopped all 70 shots to post consecutive shutouts for the first time, and has a 1.84 goals-against average with a .948 save percentage while winning five of his last seven starts.
The Predators, meanwhile, should have more confidence following that minor rough stretch. With the playoff race in the West pretty competitive, Nashville's focus down the stretch seems pretty simple.
"One thing we all understand is this is going to be a tight race," coach John Hynes told the Predators' official website. "As long as you can take care of yourself (that's important).
"It's just focusing on the next game and not getting too emotional either way -- whether you're in a playoff spot or out of a playoff spot."
While Nashville can lean on Saros, who appears to have taken over the No. 1 spot from Pekka Rinne (4.09 goals-against average and .884 save percentage during 2-4-1 stretch), it likely needs more production after totaling just four goals in the past three games.
The good news for Nashville is that all four of those goals came on the power play.
Defenseman Ryan Ellis scored in Saturday's 1-0 win at Dallas. Viktor Arvidsson assisted for his second helper in as many games, and has two goals with an assist in the last three games versus Montreal.
Entering the first 2019-20 meeting between these teams, the Predators have won four straight over the Canadiens (31-30-9, 71 points), who have managed only six goals in those contests. Montreal, mired in a 2-3-1 stretch and likely to miss the playoffs for a third straight season, has been outscored 8-1 after dropping its second in a row, 4-1 at Florida on Saturday.
Jake Evans scored for the second time in 12 NHL games for the Canadiens, who are 0-for-16 on the power play over their last eight contests.
"We have to find ways to score," coach Claude Julien told the Canadiens' official website. "At the end of the day, we can't expect to win by scoring one goal -- and giving up the kinds of goals we've been giving up."
Perhaps it's not a coincidence that Montreal has struggled offensively while leading scorer Tomas Tatar (61 points) has missed the last two contests with an upper-body injury. Tatar, who has 22 goals, recorded six points in a three-game span before being injured in the 6-2 win over the New York Islanders on March 3.
Charlie Lindgren has started two of Montreal's last four games in net, but has failed to yield fewer than three goals in five straight starts. Canadiens star Carey Price, meanwhile, has a 3.49 goals-against average during his 1-2-1 starting rut. Price has a 2.66 goals-against average despite losing three straight to Nashville.
The Canadiens' Max Domi failed to record a point in the last three games -- all on the road. He's totaled two goals with three assists during a four-game home point streak.
This is Montreal's first home game following the death of club legend Henri Richard, who died Friday at age 84.
--Field Level Media