Canadiens-Wild Preview

The Associated Press

With a number of forwards injured, the Montreal Canadiens have relied on their defense to get back on track. That part of their game has been particularly stellar on the road recently.

The Canadiens will try to post three consecutive shutouts away from home for the first time since 1928 and earn a fifth straight road victory Friday night against the Minnesota Wild.

Max Pacioretty (hamstring), Daniel Briere (concussion), Brandon Prust (shoulder) and Travis Moen (face) are missing from Montreal's lineup, and coach Michel Therrien has responded by trying to have his team play more defensive-minded hockey.

It's worked lately as the Canadiens (8-5-0) have earned back-to-back wins after losing three of four. Montreal spoiled the New York Rangers' return to Madison Square Garden on Monday with a 2-0 victory and beat Dallas 2-1 the next night at home.

Carey Price followed Peter Budaj's shutout by stopping 26 shots on Tuesday.

"With the fact that we're missing some players, we have to concentrate on good defensive play and we did that tonight," Therrien said. "I like the effort everyone is giving us."

Thanks greatly to the efforts of Price and Budaj, the Canadiens have allowed a combined four goals during a 3-1-0 stretch. They have given up two during a four-game road winning streak and would match their longest of the past 30 years with a victory Friday.

Price made 36 saves in a 3-0 win at Winnipeg on Oct. 15 in the team's last road game before the victory at New York, and he'll start Friday looking to give Montreal three straight road shutouts for the second time in the franchise's storied history. The Canadiens blanked five consecutive opponents away from home Nov. 20-Dec. 18, 1928.

The Wild (6-4-3) have yet to be shut out this season but are among the bottom-third of the league in scoring at 2.31 goals per game.

They had won three straight overall and four in a row at home before Monday's 5-1 loss to Chicago. Minnesota had topped the Blackhawks 5-3 on Saturday as Niklas Backstrom limited them to one goal in the first 52 minutes.

Backstrom made 33 saves in that win at Chicago but stopped 23 shots Monday in his second start since returning from a knee injury. Josh Harding, owner of a league-best 1.00 goals-against average in nine games this season, was on the bench Monday after missing the trip to Chicago to get treatment for a strained hamstring.

It's unknown if Harding or Backstrom will start this game, but it's likely the Wild will have a new top line as coach Mike Yeo is expected to split up center Mikko Koivu and left wing Zach Parise.

The Wild have scored two goals or fewer in nine games this season, and Koivu has one in 13 contests but also seven assists. Parise has a team-best nine points (six goals, three assists).

"We know that those guys are very good together and dangerous together, but we want to see if they can click with some other guys and strengthen our whole group," Yeo said. "I think it's been too easy for teams to match up against us."

The Canadiens are 5-1-1 in their last seven matchups with the Wild.

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