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Red Wings, Canadiens try to continue climbing

by Brian Hunter

RED WINGS (37-26-14) at CANADIENS (44-27-7)


Last 10: Detroit 7-2-1; Montreal 8-2-0

Season series: This is the final game between the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens. The Red Wings have won two of three, with forward Gustav Nyquist's overtime goal giving them a 2-1 victory in the first game at Bell Centre on Feb. 26. NHL Trade Deadline acquisition Thomas Vanek scored the decisive goal when the Canadiens won 5-4 in the most recent game March 27.

Big story: Each team aims for its second win in as many nights. The Red Wings will give veteran backup Jonas Gustavsson the start in goal, and the Canadiens have a rested Carey Price ready and waiting.

Team Scope:

Red Wings: A 23rd consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs is looking more and more likely with Detroit playing some of its best hockey down the stretch and beginning to get healthy.

Center Pavel Datsyuk, playing his first game since Feb. 27, didn't record a point in the Red Wings' 3-2 win Friday against the Buffalo Sabres but saw nearly 18 minutes of ice time and won 85 percent of his faceoffs. Veteran forward Daniel Alfredsson shook off back issues to return to the lineup, and in a span of 1:16 in the first period set up a power-play goal by Tomas Jurco and scored what turned out to be the game-winner.

"We're going to keep going and we can't let up," Alfredsson said. "We've put ourselves in a good spot."

Canadiens: Price was scheduled to have the night off when Montreal visited the Ottawa Senators on Friday, though it appeared that might be in question when backup Peter Budaj was beaten three times in the opening six minutes. Coach Michel Therrien stuck with Budaj, and though his night didn't get any easier in terms of workload, he made 39 saves and got plenty of support from his teammates.

Max Pacioretty's hat trick highlighted a burst of seven straight goals by the Canadiens in a 7-4 win that moved them two points in front of the Tampa Bay Lightning for second place in the Atlantic Division. The Lightning hold a game in hand, but the Canadiens have three more non-shootout wins.

"He's an animal," forward David Desharnais said of Pacioretty. "He scores every chance he's got and I don't expect less from him. He's a great guy, a great leader, and that's what we need from him. All the credit to him."

Who's hot: Red Wings forward Darren Helm has four goals in as many games. Forward Tomas Jurco has a goal in two straight. … Pacioretty has eight goals in his past seven games and a career-high 38 for the season. Desharnais has a goal and an assist in three of his past four games. Vanek has two goals and seven assists in his past five games.

Injury report: Red Wings forward Stephen Weiss (sports hernia) has been shut down for the season. Forward Henrik Zetterberg (back) is expected to start skating next week and could return during the first round of the playoffs. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (hand) and forward Daniel Cleary (knee) are out. … Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges (hand) is skating but not ready to return. Forwards Dale Weise (upper body), Brandon Prust (upper body) and Travis Moen (concussion) are out.

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