(SportsNetwork.com) - The Montreal Canadiens will shoot for a 2-0 start to a four-game road trip when they visit the Minnesota Wild for Wednesday's battle at Xcel Energy Center.
The Canadiens entered the opener of this swing on a three-game slide and coming off getting swept by lowly Buffalo in a home-and-home series. However, Montreal was able to end the skid by notching a 4-3 regulation decision Monday in Colorado.
Montreal will be playing tonight's game with a heavy heart following the death of Canadiens great Jean Beliveau, who passed away Tuesday. He was 83.
The Hall of Fame forward led the Habs to 10 Stanley Cup Championships and played with the Canadiens from 1950-71, notching 507 goals and 712 assists in 1,125 games. He also tallied 79 goals and 176 points in 162 playoff contests, retiring as the NHL's all-time leading playoff scorer.
"Like millions of hockey fans who followed the life and the career of Jean Beliveau, the Canadiens today mourn the passing of a man whose contribution to the development of our sport and our society was unmeasurable," Canadiens president Geoff Molson said in a statement. "Jean Beliveau was a great leader, a gentleman and arguably the greatest ambassador our game has ever known."
The Habs have a chance to honor Beliveau tonight by taking over first place in the Atlantic Division. Montreal is one point behind idle Tampa Bay.
Montreal trailed the Avalanche by scores of 2-1 and 3-2 the last time out, but rallied for the victory. P.K. Subban tied the tilt at 3-3 with 4:44 remaining in the second period and Max Pacioretty notched the winning goal late in the third.
Pacioretty gave his team a 4-3 lead with 6:06 to play as he came down on a 2- on-1 break and blasted it past Colorado's Calvin Pickard for his 12th goal of the season.
"They're a team that has a lot of speed and a lot of weapons on the ice," said Pacioretty. "This game was a bit of fresh air after losing those past three games."
Carey Price turned aside nine shots for Montreal in the final frame, helping his club hang on for the victory. Price turned away 26 shots and improved to 14-5-1 on the season.
Andrei Markov and Subban each had a goal and an assist and Jiri Sekac also scored for the Canadiens, who avoided their first four-game slide of the season.
The Habs also halted a two-game slide on the road and pushed their record as the guest to 8-4-1. The club's current swing will continue with Friday's stop in Chicago before ending the following night in Dallas.
Montreal is hoping for another win tonight as it attempts to continue its recent dominance of the Wild. The Canadiens recorded a 4-1 home win over Minnesota on Nov. 8, giving the Habs wins in two straight, four of five and six of the last eight meetings.
The clubs each have three wins over the six all-time encounters in St. Paul.
Minnesota is aiming to rebound after losing a shootout decision Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored in the final round of the shootout to help the visiting Blues record a 3-2 win at the XEC. After Jake Allen stopped a Jason Pominville wrister, Tarasenko skated in and snapped a wrister into the left corner of the net for the win.
Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise scored goals for the Wild, who have lost three of their last five. Niklas Backstrom stopped 24 shots in the defeat.
"It's frustrating that we didn't get the win," said Parise. "I thought we played well enough."
Saturday's tilt began a four-game homestand for the Wild, who are 7-2-1 as the host this season compared to a 6-7-0 mark away from the Gopher State.
Darcy Kuemper will get the start in net for Minnesota tonight. It will be the third career appearance and second start against the Canadiens for Kuemper, who is 0-1-0 with a 4.86 goals against average in this matchup.
Price is expected to go for Montreal and owns a 4-2-0 record and 2.49 GAA in his career against the Wild.