NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, December 22nd
(All times Eastern)
Montreal Canadiens (13-15-7) at Winnipeg Jets (15-13-5), 8:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Nearly three months ago, the Montreal Canadiens spoiled the
Jets' return to Winnipeg.
The Jets look to return the favor tonight and prevent Canadiens interim head
coach Randy Cunneyworth from picking up his first victory since taking over as
the two clubs clash again tonight in Manitoba.
The Jets relocated from Atlanta to Winnipeg this offseason and opened up their
season with a home game against the Canadiens on Oct. 9. With the city
celebrating the return of the NHL, the Habs played spoiler by logging a 5-1
win, getting goals from five different players.
Tomas Plekanec led the way with three points and Carey Price logged 30 saves
in Montreal's third straight victory over the former Thrashers, but that win
was the lone one for the Habs during a 1-5-2 start.
Montreal has struggled to get out of that hole since and decided to fire head
coach Jacques Martin last Saturday. Assistant Cunneyworth was named the
interim head coach for the remainder of the season, but has lost all three of
his games as the bench boss. The Canadiens dropped their fourth in a row
overall last night, falling 5-1 in Chicago.
Andrei Kostitsyn had the lone goal in the loss and Peter Budaj made 23 saves
in his first start since Nov. 30. Montreal has lost the first two of a season-
long six-game swing.
"Sometimes it's like a snowball effect," said Budaj. "We're trying to do too
much. We're not playing the way we want to."
Montreal showed some positive signs in a one-goal loss to rival Boston on
Monday, but appeared to take a discouraging step back on Wednesday.
"We have some angry guys in there, frustrated guys, because we want better
results," Cunneyworth said. "We'll see if we can kind of turn it in our
direction, use that frustration to our advantage [Thursday], but obviously
we've to get our heads into it for a complete game"
The Jets, meanwhile, will try to extend the Habs' struggles and get back on
their own winning track following a 3-2 shootout loss to the Islanders on
Tuesday. Ondrej Pavelec was excellent through 65 minutes, stopping 31 shots
before allowing a pair of skaters to score in the shootout.
"Pavelec was real good. He played strong. He helped us to at least get to a
shootout," Jets head coach Claude Noel said. "Thank him for the point."
Nik Antropov and Andrew Ladd scored for the Jets, who still have points in
seven of nine (6-2-1) and are 2-1-1 on a six-game homestand.
Antropov had Winnipeg's lone goal versus Montreal in October, while Pavelec
allowed all five goals on 22 shots.
12/22 10:53:14 ET