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Slumping Canadiens visit Jets

by John Kreiser

CANADIENS (13-15-7) at JETS (15-13-5)


LAST 10: Montreal 3-4-3; Winnipeg 6-3-1

Season Series: The Canadiens are visiting the MTS Centre for the second and final time this season. They spoiled the NHL's return to Winnipeg for the home fans by beating the Jets 5-1 on Oct. 9. The Jets visit Montreal on Jan. 4 and again on Feb. 5.

Big Story: The Jets play the fifth of a six-game homestand hoping that the magic they've enjoyed at the cozy MTS Centre returns. Winnipeg is 6-1-1 at home this month but has dropped two of its last three, including a 3-2 shootout loss to the Islanders on Tuesday, The Canadiens come to town still looking for their first win under new coach Randy Cunneyworth, who got the job Saturday when Jacques Martin was fired. They dropped to 0-3-0 since the change by losing 5-1 at Chicago on Wednesday.

Team Scope:

Canadiens: One year after scoring an overtime winner against Chicago in Montreal, 22-year-old defenseman P.K. Subban was lamenting his play against the Hawks on Tuesday after going minus-2 in the 5-1 loss. He's minus-4 in back-to-back losses at Boston and Chicago this week.

"It has nothing to do with age," Subban said of his play. "Minus-4 in the past two games, it just can't happen - not when you're playing 25 or 26 minutes a night. You've got to be better. It's as simple as that really. I know that I have to be better. I can't cost my team and I've cost them two games in a row."

Jets: Winnipeg got a point against the Islanders largely thanks to the play of goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who kept his team in the game with 31 saves, many of them spectacular. But he was vocal after the game about the way the Jets' forwards played Tuesday, then reiterated them a day later.

"I just said what I felt," Pavelec said in remarks quoted in the Winnipeg Sun. "It's not easy to score a goal in this League, and we just threw the puck away in their zone. We're practicing every day what we're supposed to do, and we just don't do that. It was bad to see it. We were just shooting for a rebound, and nobody's driving to the net."

Who's Hot: Erik Cole has three goals in Montreal's last five games and leads the team with 13. … Nik Antropov had a goal and an assist for the Jets on Tuesday and has three points in his last two games, along with a plus-3 rating. Jets captain Andrew Ladd has goals in his last two games.

Injury Report: Montreal's Brian Gionta (lower body) missed his sixth game on Wednesday and Scott Gomez (lower body) missed his 13th. Neither will play Thursday. Montreal is also without defenseman Andrei Markov, who's still not ready to return from knee surgery. … Winnipeg is without center Bryan Little (foot)

Stat Pack: Montreal is 11-8-5 all-time in Winnipeg, including 23 visits against the original Jets before that franchise moved to Phoenix in 1996. … The Canadiens lead the NHL with seven post-regulation losses.

Pick Drop: Don't be surprised if the Canadiens come out breathing fire. A number of players were emotional after the loss in Chicago.

"We have some angry guys in there. Some frustrated guys, because we want better results," Cunneyworth said. "We'll see if we can kind of turn it in our direction and use that frustration to our advantage tomorrow (in Winnipeg), but obviously we have to get our heads into it for a complete game"

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