JETS (24-23-6) at CANADIENS (19-24-9)
TV: CBC, RDS (HD)
LAST 10 : Winnipeg 4-5-1; Montreal 3-5-2
Season Series: This is the fourth and final matchup of the season. Montreal has won two of three, including the other meeting in Bell Centre on Jan. 4. In a rare offensive explosion, Montreal pinned seven goals on the Jets, including four by Lars Eller.
Big Story: If Winnipeg hopes to climb the ladder in the Eastern Conference playoff race, it must do with consistency something it has struggled to do all season: win away from home. The Jets will look to finish a six-game road swing at .500 in Montreal, where the Canadiens have given the Bell Centre faithful little to cheer about, losing three straight to drop 11 points out of the last playoff berth.
Jets: Winnipeg's road woes are due in large part to offensive struggles. The Jets have scored two goals or fewer in nine of their last 11 games, losing seven of them. Those frustrations continued Friday in South Florida, where the Panthers couldn't capitalize on consecutive 2-1 wins (Philadelphia, Tampa Bay), losing by the same score to the Panthers. Coach Claude Noel expressed his displeasure with his team, which registered fewer than 25 shots for a fourth straight game.
"Our team right now can't give up 20 minutes of free play and expect you're going to be able to win the game," Noel said. "Do I like the one goal we get every game? No. Would I like to see it change? Yes. Do I coach that way? No. That's what we have, but there's still a way to win the games."
Canadiens: If Winnipeg is suffering from a scoring drought, Montreal is in the midst of a brief but devastating dry spell. After a 3-1-1 stretch leading into the All-Star break - including a 7-2 shelling of League-leading Detroit - Montreal has lost three straight since the restart. Saturday's 3-0 home loss to the Capitals was especially uninspired, as the Habs managed just 12 shots over the final 40 minutes.
"Right now we're working on everybody getting in the right frame of mind," interim coach Randy Cunneyworth said. "We've got two afternoon games here -- and nobody said it's going to be easy, but if we stick together we can battle through this by committee."
Who's Hot: Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec, the likely starter after Chris Mason played Friday, has stopped 57 of 59 shots in winning his past two starts.
Injury Report: For the Jets, center Tim Stapleton (lower body) is day-to-day since tweaking his injury on Jan. 19. Key attacker Evander Kane has been sidelined with a concussion since Jan. 20, which goes some way in explaining the offensive struggles. … For Montreal, Travis Moen (upper body) is day-to-day, while Petteri Nokelainen (upper body), Ryan White (groin), Andrei Markov (ACL surgery), Brian Gionta (right bicep tear) and Michael Blunden (lower body) are all on injured reserve.
Stat Pack: Winnipeg is in a 3-for-31 slump on the power play, and it's unlikely that portion of their slump will end against Montreal. Despite their struggles, the Canadiens are tied for the League lead with a penalty-kill rate of 89.4 percent.
Puck Drop: Friday's loss in Florida brought Winnipeg's record in the final of back-to-backs to 0-9-0. They've been outscored 36-7 in those games, statistics not lost on Jets like center Bryan Little.
"If you're gonna be a good team, you have to learn to win these games," Little said. "We can't use that as an excuse. Every team in the League has to play back-to-back games."