|4:30 PM PT5:30 PM MT6:30 PM CT7:30 PM ET0:30 GMT8:30 5:30 PM MST7:30 PM EST4:30 UAE (+1)19:30 ETNaN:� BRT, February 7, 2019
Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec Attendance: 21,302
Jets up next on Canadiens' lengthy homestand
The Montreal Canadiens continue to play well, but seem far from content.
Looking for a third consecutive victory, the Canadiens face a stern test when they continue their longest home stretch of the season Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets.
The Canadiens (30-18-6, 66 points) have been one of the league's biggest surprises in 2018-19, and currently find themselves amid a playoff position battle in both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference. They once again helped their cause with a 4-1 victory over Anaheim on Tuesday.
Brendan Gallagher scored twice in a three-goal first period and added an assist, while Jonathan Drouin recorded three helpers for Montreal, which is 7-1-1 since Jan. 12. Rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi also scored to become the first 18-year-old with a goal in three straight games for the Canadiens, whose 30 victories are one more than they posted last season.
"Right now, we're just grinding through the season, which is what we want to do," coach Claude Julien told the Canadiens' official website. "We want to stay in the battle and stay in the present. You never want to get too high, you never want to get too low. That's what we're doing right now.
"Nobody is overly excited, but we like the direction we're going in. We're allowed to be happy with what we've accomplished so far, as long as we're not satisfied."
Star netminder Carey Price has been a big reason for Montreal's recent success. After stopping 24 shots against the Ducks on Tuesday, Price has a 1.33 goals-against average and .957 save percentage during a six-game winning streak.
He could be back in net Thursday as Montreal plays the sixth of seven consecutive home contests. It doesn't expect to be an easy one against a Winnipeg team (34-16-3, 71 points) that leads the Central Division and is vying for the top spot in the Western Conference.
The Jets were cooled off a bit with Tuesday's 3-2 overtime home defeat to San Jose. Blake Wheeler and Mathieu Perreault each scored for Winnipeg, but the Sharks tied the game early in the third and won on Joe Pavelski's short-handed goal in the extra session. Connor Hellebuyck made 35 saves for Winnipeg, which had won its previous three contests.
"We're doing a pretty good job holding down our fort," Wheeler, who has four points in four games, told the Jets' official website. "It's too bad we didn't get it done (Tuesday night), but overall, we've done a good job."
Winnipeg, which begins a three-game road trip looking to win back-to-back contests away from home for the first time since late December, could be without defenseman Josh Morrissey for this matchup. Morrissey, who has a career-high 29 points in his third full NHL season, sustained a lower-body injury blocking a shot versus San Jose.
This will be the first meeting between the two teams in 2018-19. They will face off again at Winnipeg on March 30. The Jets have recorded five points in the last three meetings with the Canadiens, and will aim for a third consecutive win at Montreal.
Hellebuyck recorded a career-high 45 saves in a 5-4 overtime home loss to the Canadiens last season.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 6, 2019