GAME 24: BLUE JACKETS (15-7-1) AT CANADIENS (9-12-3)
BELL CENTRE, 7:30 P.M., MONDAY
TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO/FOX SPORTS GO
RADIO: 97.1 FM & BLUEJACKETS.COM
If the Blue Jackets are going to extend their season-long win streak to seven games Monday, they'll have to do it against one of the NHL's top goalies.
Carey Price, who had a 36-save shutout on Saturday for the Montreal Canadiens, will start against Columbus, which will make its second trip of the season to Montreal this season and month.
Price missed 10 games with a lower-body injury, but was in peak form Saturday, in a 3-0 victory against the Buffalo Sabres at the Bell Centre. Price is 6-3-1 with a 2.18 goals-against average, .923 save percentage and one shutout in 10 career outings against the Blue Jackets.
"I don't focus on who plays [in the other net]," said Sergei Bobrovsky, who's been in net for each game of the Jackets' six-game winning streak and is expected make his eighth straight start. "I just focus on my stuff, and [doing] what I should do. Obviously, I love to win, so there is the competition [factor]. You want to win."
Columbus is second in the Metropolitan Division, one point behind the New Jersey Devils, and owns the NHL's longest active winning streak. The Jackets pushed their streak to six in a row, tied for the fifth-longest in franchise history, by defeating the Ottawa Senators 5-2 on Friday at Nationwide Arena.
They've also won a franchise record 15 of their first 23 games, and will now begin the sixth of 17 back-to-back sets on the schedule. Price helped the Canadiens end a five-game losing streak.
Montreal has been without defenseman Shea Weber for three games because of a lower-body injury, and he is questionable against Columbus.
The Blue Jackets are close to getting center Alexander Wennberg back in the lineup, after he missed the past five games with an upper-body injury. Wennberg last played Nov. 11 in Detroit, a 2-1 win in a nine-round shootout that began the win streak.
"It's good to be back on the ice with the boys," Wennberg said Sunday at Nationwide Arena, after his first full practice since leaving the lineup. "It's good to be out handling pucks and doing all that stuff instead of being in the gym."
Columbus will return home for the finale of the back-to-back Tuesday, hosting the Carolina Hurricanes in the third game of the season series.
2017-18 Season: (1-0-0). This is the second of three games in the season series. The Blue Jackets will host the Canadiens on Mar. 12 in the finale.
First game: Josh Anderson scored in the first period and Zach Werenski scored 1:09 into overtime for the Jackets' second win during the current streak. Sergei Bobrovsky made 28 saves, including a lunging effort with his blocker to prevent a goal by Jacob de la Rose off a 2-on-1 rush.
All-time: 12-9-3 overall; 7-5-2 at the Bell Centre
"BY THE NUMBERS"
- -13: The Canadiens' 5-on-5 goal differential, which ranks 28th in the NHL despite being ranked fourth in 5-on-5 shot-attempts percentage (52.5%) and fifth in shots-for percentage (52.9%).
- 2: The Blue Jackets have held opponents to two-or-fewer goals in all six of their victories during the win streak.
- 6: Goals allowed by Bobrovsky during the Blue Jackets' six-game win streak.
- 8: Victories for Columbus against Atlantic Division opponents this season (8-1-1). The Jackets are 15-4-2 in their past 21 games against the Atlantic.
- 15: Number of games the Blue Jackets have outshot their opponent thus far. That's 65.2 percent of the 23 games they've played.
Canadiens: Alex Galchenyuk ended an 11-game stretch without a goal by scoring and adding an assist Saturday against the Sabres; Paul Byron also had a goal and assist against Buffalo, while Jonathan Drouin had two assists.
Blue Jackets: Nick Foligno has two points in the past two games (one goal, one assist) after going 12 straight games without a point and 13 without a goal; Cam Atkinson ended an eight-game goal drought with two Friday against the Senators.
EYES ON: THE BLUE JACKETS
- Wennberg will make his first road trip with the Blue Jackets since leaving the lineup. He will get on the ice Monday morning during an optional skate at Bell Centre and then a decision will be made whether he's ready to return against the Canadiens. Veteran defenseman Matt Calvert (upper body) also made the trip, but is still on injured reserve and isn't expected to play.
- Tortorella juggled his line combinations in the third period against Ottawa, placing Atkinson at right wing on Foligno's group. Rookie Sonny Milano was the left wing, and the trio generated a key insurance goal. Milano sent a nice exit pass to Foligno skating up the left wing, and he scored high to the far side off a 2-on-1 rush. Atkinson, who broke a 2-2 tie minutes earlier, charged to the net to distract goalie Craig Anderson. The line stayed together at practice Sunday. "The play [Milano] makes on Nick's goal, keeps his patience in the corner, holds onto the puck, turns and drills a cross-ice pass," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "Not too many players can do that. That's a talent, as far as holding onto it, and just his passing ability."
- Bobrovsky hasn't allowed more than two goals in any of his seven consecutive starts. He's allowed one or no goals in four of the six games during the win streak. Bobrovsky could be in line to get a game off Tuesday against Carolina, after backup Joonas Korpisalo made another tune-up start with the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League on Saturday. Korpisalo, who hasn't started or played in the NHL since Nov. 7 against Nashville, made 20 saves Saturday in the Monsters' 3-2 loss to the Texas Stars. He recalled Sunday and practiced. It was the second time he's started for Cleveland while trying to stay sharp during Bobrovsky's run.
- Forward Markus Hannikainen was also assigned to Cleveland with Korpisalo on Friday night, and played Saturday against Texas. He, too, was recalled Sunday and practiced, while goalie Matiss Kivlenieks was re-assigned to Cleveland.
EYES ON: THE CANADIENS
- The Canadiens are expected to get veteran defenseman David Schlemko into the lineup for the first time this season. Schlemko has been out with a hand injury, but was recalled this weekend after a conditioning stint.
- Montreal's first line got a spark when coach Claude Julien replaced captain Max Pacioretty with Paul Byron, a speedy forward who normally plays a bottom-six role. Pacioretty went back to the second line in the win against against Buffalo, with Philip Danault and Andrew Shaw. Byron skated at right wing with Alex Galchenyuk and center Jonathan Drouin. All three had points and played roles in the Canadiens' goals. Galchenyuk and Byron had a goal and assist each, and Drouin had two assists.
- Jakub Jerabek, 26, was recalled from Laval of the American Hockey League on Wednesday, and has played the past two games with Weber out. Jerabek became the oldest rookie to make his NHL debut with the Canadiens since Bud Holloway did it two years ago, at age 27, on Nov. 27, 2015.
- The Canadiens are ranked 30th in the NHL in goals per game (2.33), despite being ranked second in shots per game (35.6) and outshooting opponents by almost five per game (31.1 per game against. Their power play is part of the issue. Montreal, which went 1-for-2 on power plays Saturday against the Sabres, has scored on just 15.2 percent of its man-advantage opportunities. That ranked 28th prior to games Sunday.
"I watch him very closely, and I can see him look across the ice and want to get on that backhand, and throw a floater across there. Instead, it's late in the shift, and he throws it in and changes. I was screaming at him, 'That was a great play!' and I'm sure he's saying, 'Man, this guy's out of his mind. I just dumped the puck in,' but that's a great play for me, for him, to allow me to trust him more." - Tortorella on rookie Sonny Milano's decision-making with the puck against the Senators on Friday.
"I think it's huge. If I don't play here, at least there's a place where I can play. Otherwise, I would be sitting here for three weeks in a row, just practicing, and that's tough. I'm glad I can do it." - Columbus backup goalie Joonas Korpisalo on staying sharp between NHL outings by making occasional starts with the Cleveland Monsters.
"It's basically I like to play. I like hockey, and that's the thing. Sometimes I need rest, obviously. I like to balance [the] work. I love to be fresh, motivated and to work hard, so I can be very competitive. If you're too tired, it's not fun. You just need to be smart with how you manage yourself." - Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky
Forward lines (12)
Artemi Panarin - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Josh Anderson
Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Sonny Milano- Nick Foligno - Cam Atkinson
Tyler Motte - Lukas Sedlak - Jordan Schroeder
Defense pairings (6)
Zach Werenski - Seth Jones
Jack Johnson - David Savard
Ryan Murray - Markus Nutivaara
Others: Scott Harrington, Markus Hannikainen, Alexander Wennberg
Injured reserve: Matt Calvert (upper body)
Forward lines (12)
Alex Galchenyuk - Jonathan Drouin - Paul Byron
Max Pacioretty - Phillip Danault - Andrew Shaw
Charlie Hudon - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher
Nicholas Deslaurier - Jacob De La Rose - Byron Froese
Defense pairings (6)
Karl Alzner - Jeff Petry
Joe Morrow - Jordie Benn
David Schlemko - Jakub Jerabek
Others: Shea Weber (lower body), Victor Mete, Brandon Davidson
Injured reserve: Al Montoya (concussion), Nikita Scherbak (knee), Artturi Lehkonen (lower body), Ales Hemsky (concussion-like symptoms)