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Canadiens return home to face Jets

by Mike Battaglino /

JETS (18-18-2) at CANADIENS (23-8-5)


Last 10: Winnipeg 3-7-0; Montreal 6-3-1

Season series: This is the second of three meetings, with the last April 25. The Montreal Canadiens won 4-3 at home on Jan. 29, with Tomas Plekanec's third-period goal the difference.

Big story: Each team is in a tight race for its division, though Montreal has 13 more points. The Canadiens lead the Boston Bruins by one point in the Northeast having played one more game; the Winnipeg Jets hold a two-point lead over the Washington Capitals in the Southeast but have played two more games.

Team Scope:

Jets: Winnipeg was one of the quietest teams at the NHL Trade Deadline, its only acquisition a waiver pickup of forward Mike Santorelli.

"This is the group that earned the opportunity to be battling at this point in time for a playoff position and will continue to battle moving forward," general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said Wednesday.

Santorelli will try to help up front after the team lost Nik Antropov for at least two weeks due to a lower-body injury sustained in a 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

"I'm super excited," Santorelli, who was waived by the Florida Panthers, told the Winnipeg Free Press in a phone interview. "The Jets have a great team and it's that time of the year when you're right in the mix of things and I'm looking forward to coming there as much as I can. Each game is so meaningful and that's exciting."

The Jets used defenseman Dustin Byfuglien on their top forward line Tuesday, playing with slumping Andrew Ladd (no goals in 10 games) and Blake Wheeler (two assists in seven games).

Canadiens: Montreal took two shots in the third period and could not protect a one-goal lead in what became a 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.

"You create your own chances and they had twice as many shots as we did," forward David Desharnais said. "It's going to go in at some point. We just didn't deserve that game.”

The Canadiens played the final 25 minutes without center Tomas Plekanec, who sustained a lower-body injury. He's out Thursday.

"It's always tough when you lose a guy like that, but other guys have to step up and fill in that role," captain Brian Gionta said.

The Canadiens have won their past four second games of back-to-backs and are 5-1-1 this season.

Who's hot: Jets defenseman Paul Postma scored twice Tuesday in his first game since March 24. Forward Eric Tangradi had two assists to double his point total of the previous 30 games. … Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty has four points in his past two games. Defenseman P.K. Subban has six points in his past four games.

Injury report: Jets defenseman Grant Clitsome (eye) might return Thursday after missing one game. Forwards Jim Slater (upper body) and Anthony Peluso (hand) are out along with Antropov. … Pacioretty (bruised foot) is questionable. Canadiens forwards Colby Armstrong (knee), Rene Bourque (concussion) and Ryan White (ankle) are out. Defenseman Raphael Diaz (concussion) has been cleared to skate.

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