The matchup: This is the first of three games between these teams this season. It’s the second half of a back-to-back set for the Canadiens, who were 4-1 winners Friday night in Columbus. The win was the fourth in a row for Montreal, which moved into a tie in points with the third-place Boston Bruins in the Atlantic Division. The Flyers are on a modest two-game winning streak after beating the Boston Bruins 4-3 Tuesday, but they are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games and are currently at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division with 42 points, which leaves them 14 points out of the last wild-card spot.
Tatar gives Canadiens the edge: Max Pacioretty is having a good season in Las Vegas when he’s healthy, but the trade that brought Tomas Tatar to Montreal in return for Pacioretty is looking better with each passing day. Tatar scored twice Friday night in the Canadiens’ win over Columbus. The goals gave him 16 for the season and he has also added 20 assists. Phillip Danault picked up an assist on Tatar’s second goal and he extended his current points streak to four games. He has a goal and four assists in that run.
Who’s in goal? Antti Niemi is coming off a 52-save performance against Florida earlier this week and normally he would get the start in the second half of the back-to-back series. But don’t be surprised if Carey Price starts after a strong performance in Columbus. The Canadiens don’t play again until Wednesday and then they have nine days off. The Flyers have used seven different goaltenders this season. Brian Elliott has been the best with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage, but he’s out with a lower-body injury, as is veteran Michal Neuvirth. The likely starter is Carter Hart, a 20-year-old rookie who has a 5-5-1 record with a 2.72 GAA and a .915 save percentage.
More changes coming in Philadelphia: The Flyers have already gone through a number of changes with general manager Ron Hextall and head coach Dave Hakstol being fired, and there will be more changes between now and the trade deadline next month. General manager Chuck Fletcher doesn’t like to use the term rebuilding, but the Flyers are preparing for a fire sale. The No. 1 trading chip for Fletcher is Wayne Simmonds, who is in the final year of his contract. Fletcher is determined to get something for him and not get stuck in the same situation as the Islanders with John Tavares. Former Canadien Dale Weise is awaiting a trade after clearing waivers earlier this week.
The one that got away: You can’t have a Montreal-Philadelphia game without noting the Canadiens picked defenceman David Fischer two spots ahead of Claude Giroux in the 2006 entry draft. Giroux leads the Flyers with 52 points, including 14 goals. Sean Couturier is the team’s leading goal-scorer with 19, while Simmonds has 15. James Van Riemsdyk, Jakub Voracek and Travis Kopecny have each scored 11. For the record, Fischer is playing for Klagengfurt in the Austrian League.