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Canadiens wrap up road trip against Jets

by Matthew Mankiewich /

CANADIENS (3-2-0) at JETS (3-3-0)


Season Series: First of two games this season between the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens takes place at MTS Centre in Winnipeg, with a return trip to Montreal on Feb. 2. The Habs swept a three-game series last season, scoring four goals in each.

Big Story: The Canadiens finish up a four-game Western swing here before returning home for five. They started off a little slow with a loss in Calgary, but beat the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks by identical 4-1 scores, so the opportunity is there for a very successful road trip. For the Jets, it's the third of a six-game home stand and a chance to build on a 3-0 shutout of the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night.

Team Scope:

Canadiens: With the Olympics coming up in February, it wasn't much of a reach for some to think a matchup between Roberto Luongo and Carey Price could be an audition for the Team Canada starting job. After all, it was Luongo who led Canada to gold in front of the home crowd in Vancouver nearly four years ago. Price, though, ended up with the upper hand this time, making 39 saves in the 4-1 win.

If it comes down to his coach, Montreal Michel Therrien is definitely in Price's corner.

“I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from Carey Price since the start of the season. He’s in control, his positioning is good and he’s making key saves,” Therrien told the Canadiens' website. "You have to give the Canucks credit, they came out really hard. If Carey Price isn’t in there, it wouldn’t have even been a game. He made some huge saves for us; he kept us in it and gave us confidence. Tonight was definitely his best game of the year. Hats off to Carey.”

Jets: The heat was on the Jets after Friday night's 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. They were muscled around at will by the rejuvenated Stars and were looking at a 3-0 deficit by the first intermission. It was their third straight loss and calls were made for Winnipeg coach Claude Noel to start cracking the whip.

Whatever he did behind the scenes registered with Evander Kane and Al Montoya. Kane was moved to the top line and responded by scoring twice, leading both teams with eight shots and dishing out five hits in the Jets' 3-0 win over the Devils. Montoya came through with 24 saves on his own while his defenders blocked an additional 19 shots.

"His game was great. He’s played in tough situations," Noel said about Montoya's sixth start with the Jets. "He did it last year, he’s done it again this year. It’s not an easy game to play when you watch your team play five and then you’re under the gun. There was a lot of pressure on Al and I thought he handled it superb, just like he did last season."

Who's hot: Six players go into Monday's action tied for the NHL lead with six assists, two of those (P.K. Subban and Alex Galchenyuk) are Canadiens and two more (Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom) are Jets. Habs forward Lars Eller is one of six more players with five goals so far, two behind League leader Tomas Hertl of the San Jose Sharks. Eller's seven points also place him among the League leaders as does his plus-5 rating, shared with Subban.

Injury report: Canadiens forward Brian Gionta missed Saturday's game in Vancouver due to his son's illness, but is expected back for this one, which will be his 700th NHL game. Forward George Parros (concussion) is symptom-free but without a timetable for return as yet. Defensemen Douglas Murray (lower body) and David Drewiskie (shoulder) are still weeks away. …Jets forward Chris Thorburn has missed the past three games with a lower-body injury and is questionable.

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