National Hockey League

 
      ***** National Hockey League Previews from The Sports Network *****
                               Sunday, February 1
                              (All times Eastern)
 
 ARIZONA COYOTES (17-26-6) AT MONTREAL CANADIENS (32-13-3), 1 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Montreal Canadiens hope to match their longest
 winning streak of the season and extend a lengthy home point streak over
 Arizona on Sunday afternoon as they welcome the Coyotes to Bell Centre.
 
 The Canadiens have won five in a row, including two straight 1-0 decisions
 that have been anchored by a Carey Price shutout and a game-winning goal from
 Max Pacioretty.
 
 Pacioretty scored with 4:17 left in regulation and Price made 24 saves in
 Thursday's 1-0 win over the New York Rangers, and Pacioretty had the only goal
 on Saturday afternoon in an overtime decision versus the Washington Capitals.
 
 Pacioretty scored with 1:52 on the clock as he chipped in a feed from Tomas
 Plekanec.
 
 "It was a great play by Plekanec," Pacioretty said. "When you go to the net,
 good things happen."
 
 Price was up to the task as well, making 36 saves for his fourth shutout of
 the season and 29th of his career, which tied him with Patrick Roy for fifth
 on the club's all-time shutout list.
 
 Montreal has gone 15-3-1 since Dec. 9, a span that includes a season high-
 tying six-game win streak from Dec. 20-Jan. 3, and remained tied with Detroit
 for second place in the Atlantic Division. The Canadiens are one point behind
 the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning, who like the Red Wings are idle today.
 
 It is unknown if Price will start again today or if backup Dustin Tokarski
 will face the Coyotes for the first time. Price is a perfect 6-0-0 in six
 previous meetings with Arizona, posting a 1.65 goals against average and .944
 save percentage.
 
 The Habs had won nine in a row in this series before losing the most recent
 encounter on the road 5-2 on March 6 of last year.
 
 The Canadiens, though, are 7-0-0 with two ties in their past nine meetings
 with Arizona in Montreal and 20-0-1 with two ties over the past 23 as the
 hosting club.
 
 The Coyotes franchise has not picked up a regulation win in Montreal since
 March 14, 1985 when they were still known as the Winnipeg Jets. They did notch
 a 5-4 overtime victory at Bell Centre on Oct. 28, 1996.
 
 That makes today's game a tough spot to end their recent struggles as the
 Coyotes are 1-3-2 on an eight-game road trip with losses in eight of their
 past nine overall.
 
 Arizona was facing only a one-goal deficit going into the third period on
 Saturday afternoon against Ottawa, but the Sens exploded for four goals in the
 final frame to hand the Coyotes a 7-2 loss.
 
 Mike Smith allowed five Senators goals on 20 shots against him before getting
 the hook in the third period. Louis Domingue made his NHL debut in relief,
 giving up two goals on 11 shots over 17 minutes and 43 seconds of action. He
 was recalled from Portland of the American Hockey League before the game.
 
 "In the end, it was embarrassing," said Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek,
 who scored along with Sam Gagner. "That's not how we want to play."
 
 Arizona head coach Dave Tippett took it further, placing blame on Smith and
 the club's overall discipline.
 
 "Bottom line is your goaltender has to be good for you. Ours wasn't very good
 tonight," said Tippett. "We gave up too many chances. Once you get behind, you
 start chasing the game and you look like an ugly team."
 
 Tippett's words seem to suggest that Domingue will make his first career NHL
 start. The 22-year-old was a fifth-round pick in 2010.
 
 Forward Martin Hanzal did not play on Saturday due to an upper-body injury,
 joining Joe Vitale (upper body) and Mikkel Boedker (spleen) on the sidelines.
 
 
 ST. LOUIS BLUES (31-13-4) AT WASHINGTON CAPITALS (25-14-10), 1 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The St. Louis Blues aim to extend a 10-game point streak
 and grab a share of first place in the Central Division on Sunday afternoon as
 they visit the Washington Capitals.
 
 The Blues picked up a fourth win in a row on Friday, posting a 3-2 shootout
 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk had the winner
 in the tiebreaker, scoring as St. Louis' second shooter before Jake Allen
 sealed things with a stop on Eric Staal's wrister.
 
 Allen made 26 saves, while David Backes and Ryan Reaves scored early to help
 the Blues improve to 9-0-1 in their last 10 games.
 
 "This was a big game to win," said St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock. "We
 played back-to-back, and our record was only two games over .500 on the road.
 To start off the second half of the season with a big road win is important,
 so they deserve a lot of credit."
 
 Backes' goal extended his point streak to nine straight games and he has
 totaled eight goals and 16 points over the run.
 
 St. Louis is second in the Central Division with 66 points, two ahead of
 Chicago and a pair of points back of Nashville, which visits Pittsburgh on
 Saturday.
 
 Brian Elliott, who leads the NHL with a 1.95 goals against average, will start
 today for the Blues and is 5-2-0 lifetime versus the Capitals with a 3.19 GAA
 and .881 save percentage in nine games (8 starts).
 
 The Capitals are in action for a second straight afternoon, having lost a 1-0
 overtime decision to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.
 
 Braden Holtby, coming off a shutout win over Pittsburgh, made 29 saves, but
 gave up the only goal of the game with Montreal's Max Pacioretty chipped home
 a pass with 1:52 left in overtime.
 
 "We're happy with the way we played against a very good team," Holtby said.
 "There were some big performances on both sides."
 
 Alex Ovechkin, tied for the league lead with 29 goals, had a big performance
 despite not scoring. He logged just over 25 minutes of ice time and had eight
 shots on net along with five hits.
 
 However, Washington still fell to 1-3-2 in its last six games and is tied for
 third in the Metropolitan Division with the New York Rangers.
 
 Holtby made his 42nd start of the season, tied for second most in the NHL, and
 it is unknown if he'll get the call again today. He has won both of his
 previous starts versus the Blues, giving up only two goals on 76 shots.
 
 Backup Justin Peters, meanwhile, is 0-2-0 versus St. Louis while giving up
 seven goals on 65 shots for a 3.50 GAA and .892 save percentage.
 
 The Capitals have won four of their past six versus the Blues overall and four
 of the last five meetings at home, but St. Louis did notch a 4-1 victory as
 the hosting club on Nov. 15.
 
 Elliott made 24 saves and Backes was one of four goal-scorers for the Blues,
 while Peters made 30 saves.
 
 
 NASHVILLE PREDATORS (31-11-6) AT PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (28-13-8), 2 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - James Neal can't worry a whole lot about his return trip
 to Pittsburgh, not with Nashville struggling ahead of a matchup with a tough
 opponent.
 
 Neal and the Predators hope to snap their near five-year losing streak to the
 Penguins on Sunday afternoon.
 
 The 27-year-old Neal will play in Pittsburgh for the first time since the
 Penguins traded him to Nashville in a draft day deal on June 27 in exchange
 for forwards Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. Neal had spent three-plus
 seasons with the Pens after they acquired him from the Dallas Stars ahead of
 the 2010-11 trade deadline.
 
 Neal scored 40 goals in 80 games with Pittsburgh in 2011-12 and has potted 16
 this season for Nashville. That is second on the club behind only Filip
 Forsberg's 17.
 
 While Neal makes a return trip to Pittsburgh, it will make the second time he
 has faced the Pens since the trade. He went pointless in a 3-0 loss to
 visiting Pittsburgh on Oct. 25.
 
 "I'm not too worried about it or thinking about it too much," Neal told
 Nashville's website on returning to Pittsburgh. "I think playing (the Penguins
 in October) in Nashville kind of washed that away and I really haven't looked
 back. We've been having great success here, and it's really all I'm focused
 on."
 
 That loss to the Penguins was the fifth in a row in this series for the
 Predators, who have not beaten Pittsburgh since Feb. 14, 2010.
 
 While Nashville has had success this season, it has also lost four of its past
 five games to tighten things up in the Central Division. The Preds lead the
 St. Louis Blues by two points for first place in the standings.
 
 The Predators were blanked 3-0 by Semyon Varlamov and the Colorado Avalanche
 on Friday. Nashville had lost a 5-4 shootout the previous night versus the
 Blues after having topped the Avs in overtime on Tuesday.
 
 Marek Mazanec made his first start of the season and posted 25 saves.
 
 "We had our opportunities tonight," said Mazanec. "It was good to get the
 start, but it would have been better to get the win."
 
 With Pekka Rinne out with injury, Carter Hutton figures to get the call today
 and it would be his first start versus the Penguins. He has faced them once
 before in relief, stopping all eight shots fired his way.
 
 The Penguins are trying to work out of their own slump, winning for just the
 second time in seven games with a 2-1 overtime decision versus New Jersey on
 Friday.
 
 Pittsburgh seemed in danger of getting shut out for a second game in a row,
 but Chris Kunitz scored a power-play goal with 3:11 remaining in regulation
 and defenseman Simon Despres won it with 2:39 on the clock in overtime.
 
 Marc-Andre Fleury needed to make only 13 saves in the win.
 
 "Our energy on the bench was high and our attitude was 'don't get down, keep
 going,'" said Kunitz. "It may be one of our best efforts all year of playing
 that 60-minute game.
 
 Penguins defenseman Christian Ehrhoff did not play due to a head injury
 suffered on a hit versus Washington in Wednesday's 4-0 loss. Center Evgeni
 Malkin, meanwhile, missed his fourth game in a row with a lower-body injury.
 
 Malkin was able to practice on Saturday for the first time since the All-Star
 break, but will sit out again today.
 
 "I thought he looked really good out there today," Pens head coach Mike
 Johnston said on his team's website. "So he's getting really close, he's ahead
 of schedule so we're excited about that for sure.
 
 "The first thing was to get him into a regular practice. You saw at the end of
 practice today, he took some physical play so he got bumped around a little
 bit, took that. Get a skate in tomorrow. He won't play tomorrow."
 
 The Penguins are second in the Metropolitan Division with 64 points, one
 behind the front-running New York Islanders and four up on both the New York
 Rangers and Capitals.
 
 Fleury is 6-2-1 with a 1.72 goals against average and .932 save percentage in
 nine career meetings with the Preds, all but one of those starts. He made 25
 saves to blank Nashville in October.
 
 
 MINNESOTA WILD (22-20-6) AT VANCOUVER CANUCKS (27-17-3), 3:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Vancouver Canucks brought stability back to their
 goaltending position with the offseason signing of Ryan Miller.
 
 The Minnesota Wild hope they have done the same with their in-season
 acquisition.
 
 The Wild seek a third straight win on Sunday afternoon when they visit the
 Canucks.
 
 Minnesota is seven points back of a wild card spot, but won for the fourth
 time in six games with Thursday's 1-0 blanking of the Calgary Flames. Devan
 Dubnyk made 30 saves for his third shutout of the season and 11th of his
 career.
 
 Two of those shutouts have come since he was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes
 on Jan. 14 in exchange for a 2015 third-round pick. Dubnyk is 4-1-0 with the
 Wild, posting a 1.66 goals against average and .931 save percentage.
 
 Zach Parise picked up Minnesota's lone goal, his sixth in as many games, and
 Thomas Vanek recorded his 300th career assist on the goal.
 
 "I think we owe a lot to Dubnyk tonight. He bailed us out on a lot of
 different breakdowns we had. He was really good," Parise said.
 
 Minnesota is concluding a four-game road trip today and Dubnyk is the likely
 starter. He is 6-6-3 lifetime versus the Canucks with a 2.51 GAA, .924 save
 percentage and three shutouts in 17 games (14 starts).
 
 Vancouver is in the thick of the playoff race as it is tied for third in the
 Pacific Division with the Calgary Flames, three points behind the second-place
 San Jose Sharks.
 
 The Canucks bested Miller's former Buffalo Sabres club 5-2 on Friday, with the
 netminder coming up with 20 saves as Vancouver snapped a two-game slide with
 its fourth victory in six contests.
 
 It was Miller's first game versus the Sabres since they dealt him to the St.
 Louis Blues last season. He signed with the Canucks as a free agent this past
 offseason.
 
 Vancouver had been shut out in each of its two previous home games, but found
 itself tied 1-1 after the first period before going ahead for good on second-
 period power-play goals by Yannick Weber and Nick Bonino.
 
 "It seemed once we got those (goals), then we started to play better," said
 Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins.
 
 Bo Horvat, Radim Vrbata and Chris Higgins also scored in the win, which came
 in the second contest of a six-game homestand.
 
 Miller is 4-3-0 lifetime versus the Wild with a 2.46 GAA and .908 save
 percentage.
 
 The Canucks have lost four of their past five against the Wild, including two
 straight in Vancouver following an 11-game series home win streak.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 02/01 10:28:57 ET

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