With points precious this time of the NHL season, there’s a good chance Canadiens goalie Carey Price will start back-to-back games against the Devils and Wings on Monday and Tuesday.
Claus Andersen /
Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens-Devils game at Prudential Center on Monday (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN-690 Radio).The matchup: The Canadiens hold the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference but, after dropping 6-3 decision to the Maple Leafs on Saturday in Toronto, they have a slim one-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins. This is a must-win game for the Canadiens, who play their next three games on the road against teams that are currently out of a playoff position. The Canadiens are in Detroit on Tuesday and play the Rangers on Friday in New York before returning home to play the Penguins on Saturday. The Devils lost to the Rangers 5-2 Saturday and are 16 points out of the final wild-card spot.Price all the way? With back-to-back games on the menu, Claude Julien would normally split the workload between his two goaltenders. But desperate times call for desperate measures and that means it’s likely Price will start in this game and Tuesday night in Detroit. Antti Niemi has made a significant contribution to the team over the past two seasons, but he has struggled in his recent starts. Nobody should be surprised if Marc Bergevin looks for some insurance in goal before Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, with the Flyers’ Brian Elliott in play.Tatar going for four: Tomas Tatar, who was acquired from Las Vegas in the Max Pacioretty trade, has scored goals in three consecutive games and has 21 for the season. He has scored 20 or more goals for five consecutive seasons, and his 46 points are the most since he registered a career-high 56 in 2014-15. He has the third-best plus/minus numbers among Montreal forwards with a plus-13 (Phillip Danault and Victor Mete are tied at plus-15). Tatar was minus-2 in Toronto, but that figure is misleading because he was on the ice when Danault’s turnover led to Zach Hyman’s winning goal and he was on the ice for two empty-net goals.News from the clinic: The Canadiens are hoping to have Jonathan Drouin back in the lineup. He was a last-minute scratch in Toronto because of the flu. Nicolas Deslauriers replaced him the lineup, which raises the question of whether Charles Hudon has a future in Montreal. You would think his speed would have been an asset against the Maple Leafs, but he was a healthy scratch. The Devils are missing Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall and Stefan Noesen with lower-body injuries; centre Pavel Zacha has an upper-body injury and defenceman Sami Vatanen is out with a concussion.Schneider back on track: Cory Schneider, who went more than 13 months without a regular-season victory, is back in form after hip problems. In his last four starts, he’s 3-1 with a shutout and a .930 save percentage. But defence is still a problem and the Devils have allowed 3.39 goals a game to rank 29th in the NHL. And if you were wondering how Kenny Agostino is doing after being claimed on waivers from Montreal, he scored his first goal as a Devil on Saturday against the Rangers. The New Jersey native has a goal and two assists in seven games.