Jets hope to continue mastery of Habs
The Jets, who clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs March 25, are 9-3-3 against the Atlantic Division this season after their 6-5 win over the Ottawa Senators on Monday at Canadian Tire Centre.
Winnipeg has won eight straight games against the Atlantic Division and is riding a 10-game point streak (8-0-2) that dates to Dec. 7.
The Jets (49-20-10) will close out a four-game road trip against the Canadiens before returning home to complete their regular-season schedule against the Calgary Flames (Thursday) and the Chicago Blackhawks (Saturday).
Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler, who had two goals against Ottawa, leads the Jets with 37 points (10 goals, 27 assists) in 31 games against the Eastern Conference this season.
The Jets will be looking to clean up a messy performance against the Senators that saw them lead 3-0 before the game was 12 minutes old only to see the Senators keep clawing back into the game.
The Senators took advantage of a six-on-three advantage (they pulled goaltender Craig Anderson for another attacker) to get a power-play goal from Matt Duchene with 1:05 left in the third to make it 6-5.
“A six-on-three, that’s the first one I’ve seen in the NHL,” Wheeler said. “That’s obviously difficult. Luckily, we had a two-goal lead.”
Winnipeg forward Andrew Copp chipped in a goal and an assist and said hanging on for the win will help the Jets down the stretch.
“It was a good start for us, but we probably didn’t stay on it as much as we wanted to,” Copp said. “We didn’t stay as engaged as we needed to. It was kind of a ping-pong game almost, not a lot of clean plays made, a lot of sloppiness, but it was huge that we can find a way to win those games, too.”
The Canadiens are closing the home portion of their 2017-18 schedule and go into the game against the Jets with an 18-14-8 record at Bell Centre.
If Canadiens goaltender Carey Price gets the start, he will set a franchise record by playing in his 557th game. Price tied legend Jacques Plante in Montreal’s 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Sunday with 556 appearances in the Canadiens’ legendary red, white and blue sweater.
“I’m a little disappointed with the loss, but I’m definitely proud of reaching that level,” Price told the Montreal Gazette. “It’s a legendary name and to be spoken of in the same breath is pretty cool.”
“It’s quite a feat,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien told The Gazette. “He’s been here for a long time and played a lot of games, and I think the players were extremely proud and probably disappointed we couldn’t win that important game for him. Nonetheless, they gave their best.”
One of the bright spots in this lost season for the Canadiens has been the play of rookie defenseman Noah Juulsen, who will play his 21st NHL game against the Jets.
Juulsen, who turned 21 Monday, was the No. 26 pick in the 2015 draft. The stay-at-home defenseman has topped 20 minutes in ice time in two of his past three games, including 20:22 against the Devils with 6:28 on the penalty kill.
“At this time of year, we’re looking to evaluate more than we’re looking necessarily to win the game,” Julien said. “We want our guys to benefit from that. (Juulsen’s) doing a good job at that. We have a lot of young guys who are gaining some valuable experience from this tough stretch we’re going through. It’s going to pay off down the road.”