NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, January 4th (All times Eastern)
Winnipeg Jets (19-14-5) at Montreal Canadiens (14-18-7), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Winnipeg Jets will try to match their longest winning streak of the season tonight, when they visit the struggling Montreal Canadiens for a battle at the Bell Centre.
The Jets have won three straight for the third time this season and another victory tonight will tie the club's four-game winning streak from Dec. 1-9. Winnipeg enters tonight one point out of a playoff spot in the East.
The Jets last played on New Year's Eve, when they notched a 3-2 regulation win over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs. Blake Wheeler scored the go-ahead goal midway through the second period and Ondrej Pavelec made 12 of his 21 saves in the third stanza to help the Jets held off the Leafs.
Zach Bogosian and Andrew Ladd also scored in the second period for the Jets.
"It was a great atmosphere tonight," said Bogosian. "It was kind of tough to get into a routine because we took a bunch of penalties, but we were able to work our way through it."
Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom had an assist, moving him into a tie for fifth place in Jets all-time points scored with Dany Heatley. Enstrom now has 181 points in 336 games played with the Jets franchise.
Winnipeg played Saturday without defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (knee) and center Jim Slater (rib). Slater is expected to play tonight, but Byfuglien will sit out a fourth straight game.
This evening's test marks the start of a four-game road trip for the Jets, who are just 5-8-4 as the visiting team this year. Winnipeg will also visit Toronto, Buffalo and Boston during this trek.
The Canadiens, meanwhile, enter this evening as the last-place team in the Northeast Division and 13th out of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference. The club has lost seven of its last eight tilts and is just 1-6 since Randy Cunneyworth took over as head coach for the fired Jacques Martin.
Montreal has lost two in a row since Cunneyworth's lone win behind the bench and was also last in action on Saturday. The Habs played their final game of the 2011 calendar year in Florida and was handed a 3-2 regulation setback by the Panthers. Tomas Fleischmann scored two goals to lift Florida to victory.
Fleischmann's second goal was an empty-netter with 41 seconds left in regulation that seemed to ice the game at 3-1, but Montreal's Erik Cole raced down the right side of the ice after the Canadiens won the ensuing faceoff and slipped a backhander past Scott Clemmensen 11 seconds later to bring Montreal back within a goal.
However, the Canadiens could not net the equalizer, despite firing a flurry of shots at the net in the closing seconds as Florida hung on for the win.
Travis Moen joined Cole in the goal-scoring department for Montreal, while Carey Price stopped 32-of-34 shots in defeat.
"The chances are there, we're making most of the plays," said Price. "I liked the energy level we had tonight, but it was just one more tough night for us."
The Habs are beginning a three-game homestand tonight, but the Canadiens are just 5-7-6 at the Bell Centre this season. Montreal has lost six of its last seven games in front of its home crowd.
Montreal and the Jets have split the first two of four meetings this season, but tonight marks the first encounter in Quebec. The Canadiens recorded a 5-1 win over Winnipeg on Oct. 9, but the Jets pasted the Habs, 4-0, on Dec. 22.
The teams have split the last six matchups in this series, but the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise has dropped five of its last seven in Montreal.
01/04 10:56:25 ET