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Red Wings continue playoff drive against Canadiens

by Brian Hedger /

CANADIENS (41-26-7) at RED WINGS (33-25-14)


Last 10: Montreal 6-4-0; Detroit 5-4-1

Season series: This will be the third of four games between the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings, who are Atlantic Division rivals after Detroit moved to the Eastern Conference this season. The Red Wings won the first two games, including a 2-1 overtime victory Feb. 26 at Bell Centre in Montreal.

Big story: The Red Wings let two points slip through their fingers in a 4-2 loss Tuesday at the Columbus Blue Jackets. Detroit is clinging to the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs despite being tied in points (80) with three other teams.

The Canadiens have won three straight games and six of the past seven to rebound from a stretch in which they dropped four of five games. The win streak helped Montreal climb to second in the Atlantic, two points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Team Scope:

Canadiens: This is the start of a tough four-game trip for Montreal, which has two less games left than Tampa Bay. The Canadiens went 1-for-6 on the power play and won 2-0 in ugly fashion Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres, but still moved up two points in the division standings.

They were coming off emotionally-draining victories against the rival Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, so coach Michel Therrien wasn't too down about lacking style points against Buffalo.

"You can't have the same emotion in every game, but what I liked about our team [Tuesday] was that we didn't change anything,” Therrien said. "They got a great game from [goaltender Matt Hackett]. He made some great saves, especially in the second period, but we didn't worry about Buffalo. We played our game and that's what we have to do."

Red Wings: Detroit didn't get a point for the first time in its past five games after losing to Columbus, but there is good news on the injury front. The Red Wings continue to filter injured players back into the lineup with 10 games left and each one brings added hope that a 23rd straight playoff appearance will happen in the Motor City.

Rookie forward Tomas Jurco (rib) is set to play against Montreal and top center Pavel Datsyuk (knee) might be close. Meanwhile, forward Gustav Nyquist remains hot. He's scored a goal in six straight games and has 25 goals in 47 contests.

"Maybe [he] found out that he can shoot the puck," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "That's something we suggested wouldn't be such a bad idea, shooting the puck, and now he's on a roll and feeling good about himself."

Who's hot: Montreal goaltender Carey Price stopped 24 shots against the Sabres on Tuesday for his fifth shutout of the season. ... Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar has two goals and three assists in the past four games.

Injury report: Canadiens forward Brandon Prust (rib) is out for the rest of the regular season, forward Dale Weise (hand) is sidelined for 2-3 weeks, defenseman Josh Gorges (hand surgery) is out for several weeks and forward Travis Moen (concussion-like symptoms) will miss at least a week. ... Detroit will be without captain Henrik Zetterberg (back), center Stephen Weiss (hernia), defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (finger fracture), forward Justin Abdelkader (leg laceration), forward Daniel Cleary (knee) and forward Mikael Samuelsson (shoulder). Datsyuk (knee) will likely miss the game but is nearing a return.

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