Here are the things you should know for tonight's games:
Canadiens, Blues try to recover
The Montreal Canadiens (14-5-1) are hosting the St. Louis Blues (12-5-1) coming off a tough 4-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday which ended a six-game winning streak for the Habs. St. Louis is also coming off a shutout loss, 2-0 to the Bruins. It should be a competitive game between two of the top teams in the league. Montreal leads the NHL with 29 points and the Blues are not far behind with 25.
St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko has been on fire this season with 10 goals and 11 assists and is sure to test Canadiens goalie Carey Price. Price is coming off his worst game of the season Tuesday where he stopped only 16 shots. Goaltending could play a big role in the result as Price is facing off against another strong netminder in the Blues' Jake Allen. Allen has been top-notch lately with a 5-1-0 record and a 1.67 GAA that is second-best in the league.
Lucky for the Canadiens it's Max Pacioretty's birthday. Last year he celebrated by scoring a hat trick against the Wild.
Leafs have something to prove
Even though they are not in a terrible position in the standings, the Toronto Maple Leafs (9-8-2) need a win tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning (13-5-2). In their last two games the Leafs were badly beaten, losing 9-2 to the Predators and 6-2 to the Sabres. The Leafs will have to shake off the double lambasting and keep the Lightning from putting the puck in the net to try and get back in the win column.
Keeping Tampa Bay off the board will be a challenge given the recent play of Lightning forward Steven Stamkos, who has nine points in his last seven games. In their last meeting on March 19 Stamkos contributed a hat trick to the 5-3 Lightning victory. Tampa Bay won the last two meetings but the Leafs won the two before that.
At least it can't get any worse for the Leafs, theoretically.
Flames burn hot
The Calgary Flames (12-6-2) have had a great start to the season and will be hoping to carry that into their home game tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks (10-7-1). The Flames have won four of their last five games including a come-from-behind nail-biter against the Ducks Tuesday where they fought back from a 2-0 deficit in the third to win 4-3 in a shootout. Jonas Hiller is set to get the start in net after coming off the victory against his former teammates in Anaheim. Hiller has a 9-4-1 record with a 2.33 GAA.
The Blackhawks are starting their annual "circus trip" touring western Canada, California and Colorado where they will try to improve on their 3-4-0 away record this season. Chicago has split its last 10 games, winning five and losing five. The long trip has been good for the Blackhawks in the past. They went 6-1-0 last season and have gone 22-11-4 since the 2007-08 season. Chicago will have to plug the void left by the departure of rookie defenceman Trevor van Riemsdyk, who is expected to miss the next three or more months with a fractured kneecap.
Ex-Canuck Kesler returns
It will be a homecoming in Van City tonight for Ryan Kesler, who spent 10 seasons with the Vancouver Canucks (13-6-0) before being traded to his new team, the Anaheim Ducks (11-4-5). Kesler arrived in a deal during the off-season that saw Nick Bonino and Luca Sbisa head to Vancouver.
The Ducks are trying to avoid a fourth straight loss but their record doesn't impart much confidence. After starting the season with a very strong 10-3-0 record they have gone 1-1-5 including squandering a 2-0 lead in the third against Calgary on Tuesday. Despite that, Anaheim has a decisive winning record when playing in Vancouver, going 6-0-1 in their last seven visits, so this could be the game where the Ducks get things back on track.
There are two other Canadian teams in action tonight with Nashville visiting Ottawa and Winnipeg hosting Detroit.Suggest a correction