CANADIENS (27-14-5) at JETS (24-20-3)
TV: RDS, TSN-HABS, TSN-JETS
Last 10: Montreal 4-6-0; Winnipeg 6-3-1
Season series: The Canadiens will be looking for a season sweep in the third and final meeting.
Big story: The Jets are fighting for their lives to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and will need a win to have any hope of reaching the postseason. Those hopes may potentially be dashed before this game even ends, seeing as Winnipeg needs either Ottawa or the New York Rangers to lose earlier in the evening to have a chance at playing next week. The Canadiens, meanwhile, will be looking to snap out of a 1-5-0 funk since clinching a playoff berth April 11.
Canadiens: Montreal needs a win in Winnipeg to fend off the Toronto Maple Leafs for fourth in the Eastern Conference while also continuing their quest to win the Northeast Division in spite of the past two weeks of poor play. Both the Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins play earlier the same night, so Montreal’s chances of achieving either of those two goals should be much clearer by the end of Thursday’s action.
In an attempt to fix what has become a chronic problem defensively with 28 goals allowed in six games – including 10 on the power play – the Canadiens called up defenseman Jarred Tinordi to play against the Jets.
“Tinordi did well for us when he first came up and had all the excitement of making his first steps into the NHL,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien told reporters Wednesday. “After that, he lost a little bit of his confidence. We want him to be more physical – that’s part of his game. He’s got to make sure that for a big kid like him, he’s a presence on the ice, and he did exactly that to finish the year in [AHL] Hamilton. He’ll have an opportunity [Thursday] and we believe in the young man.”
Jets: The Jets are coming off a devastating 5-3 loss in Washington to the division rival Capitals on Tuesday, one that all but extinguished their chances of making the playoffs. The Jets will need a lot of help even with a win against the Canadiens, needing either the Rangers to lose their two remaining games or the Senators to lose their two final games.
But regardless of the status of their playoff chances, the Jets were insisting they would leave everything on the ice in this their final game of the 2012-13 season.
“I think you have to [show up Thursday],” captain Andrew Ladd told the Winnipeg Free Press. “As a professional, it's your job to make sure you're coming out. Mathematically we still have a shot so we don't want to sell ourselves short by not showing up.”
Who's hot: For the Canadiens, rookie forward Alex Galchenyuk has six goals and four assists in 11 games and Max Pacioretty has three goals and five assists in seven games. … For the Jets, Blake Wheeler has four goals and eight assists in his past eight games, and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien has two goals and four assists in his past seven.