The only thing holding the Montreal Canadiens back earlier this season was poor play at home. That doesn't appear to be a problem anymore.
The surging Canadiens look to extend their season-best home win streak to four on Sunday when they face the New York Rangers at the Bell Centre for the first time this season.
Montreal (28-15-9) started this season playing well at home, going 5-2-1 in its first eight games. That, however, was followed by a 1-5-2 stretch there that had the Canadiens looking forward to playing on the road.
They've since reverted to their early-season form at home lately, winning three straight and picking up at least one point six of their last seven games (5-1-1).
The Canadiens have outscored opponents 16-3 during their current run at home, and are 4-0-1 in their last five overall contests to move within three points of Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa.
|Right winger Alexei Kovalev (27) and the Montreal Canadiens have yet to beat center Chris Drury (23) and the New York Rangers in two meetings so far this season. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Tomas Plekanec scored short-handed and Mark Streit added a power-play goal, leading Montreal to a 4-1 home victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday.
Cristobal Huet rebounded from a shaky performance in a 5-4 overtime loss to Washington on Thursday with 29 saves in his 11th straight start. Huet has allowed two goals or fewer in six of his last eight games.
"You just go out and try to play better and better each game," Huet said, who matched a career high with his 19th win. "The race is tight and it's always fun to play when there's a lot on the line."
Plekanec's goal was his 47th point this season, matching his career best set last season. He has six goals - two short-handed - and 12 assists in his last 14 games.
All-Star defenseman Andrei Markov set up a pair of goals Saturday, giving him assists in five straight games.
Now, the Canadiens will try to cool off the Rangers (26-22-6), who have won four of five to move into eighth place in the East.
Chris Drury scored twice and Henrik Lundqvist made 33 saves as the Rangers beat New Jersey for the fifth straight time, 3-1 on Friday. That came after a 4-0 win over Philadelphia the previous night.
Drury had goals in back-to-back games for the first time this season. The Rangers are 9-2-2 when he scores a goal.
"We've been a lot more disciplined lately," Drury said. "It's down to the wire here. We need to get points and we need to get wins. We starting to build some momentum and we're starting to see how we have to play. It's defense first, and we'll go from there."
All-Star center Scott Gomez has four goals and 16 assists during a nine-game point streak against Montreal. He has won nine straight games versus the Canadiens, the first seven coming with New Jersey.
Lundqvist has also been very successful against Montreal, going 5-0-0 with a 2.18 goals-against average in his last six starts.
The Rangers have won three straight and five of their last six meetings with the Canadiens. New York's only loss in that span was a 6-4 defeat at Montreal on March 27.