NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, April 9th
(All times Eastern)
Montreal Canadiens (45-27-7) at Chicago Blackhawks (45-19-15), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Blackhawks will try to extend their longest
winning streak in four months on Wednesday evening as they play host to the
red-hot Montreal Canadiens.
The Blackhawks have opened up April with three straight victories, their
longest string of consecutive wins since a three-game span from Dec. 8-11. A
win tonight would give Chicago its longest winning streak since a six-game run
from Nov. 21-30.
Despite the recent success, Chicago if four points behind the Colorado
Avalanche for second place in the Central Division. The holder of that spot
would earn home-ice advantage over the third-place club in the opening round
of the playoffs.
Both the Blackhawks and Avs have three games remaining, with Colorado idle
Chicago is coming off a 4-2 victory over the Central-leading St. Louis Blues,
with Patrick Sharp scoring the go-ahead goal late in the second period and
Marcus Kruger following with a goal in the opening minute of the third frame.
Jeremy Morin also scored and added an assist for the Blackhawks, while Ben
Smith put the puck into the open net and Corey Crawford came up with 21 saves.
"Very workman-like three games in a row and we got rewarded each night," said
Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville. "It was a good week for us and I liked
our response to a real tough week prior."
The Blackhawks have won three straight and six of their last seven at home
going into tonight's regular-season finale at the United Center. Chicago's
final two games are on the road in Washington and Nashville.
The Canadiens, meanwhile, are looking to hold off the Tampa Bay Lightning for
second place in the Atlantic Division. Montreal is two points ahead of the
idle Bolts with three games to go for both clubs.
The Habs may be hitting their stride at the right time, having won seven of
eight and 10 of their previous 12 games. That includes Saturday's 5-3 win over
the Detroit Red Wings that saw Montreal rally from blowing a three-goal lead.
Captain Brian Gionta, in his 300th career game with the Canadiens, scored his
second goal of the game with 6:47 remaining to put his club back in front
after it failed to hold a 3-0 edge. Alex Galchenyuk was credited with an
insurance tally with 4:20 to play after Tomas Plekanec's shot deflected off
him and in.
Despite squandering the sizeable lead, Gionta liked how his team reacted.
"We let them get back in the game, but we showed a lot of poise sticking with
it and not being rattled by their three goals," he said.
Max Pacioretty scored his 39th goal of the season and Carey Price posted 34
Montreal will play its final road game of the regular season tonight ahead of
home meetings with the New York Islanders and New York Rangers. The club also
is slated to have defenseman Josh Gorges back in the lineup for the first time
since March 5 as he was sidelined with a hand injury.
The Canadiens have won seven of their previous 10 meetings with the
Blackhawks, including a 2-1 overtime victory in Montreal on Jan. 11.
Chicago has still managed to win three straight and five of the last seven
encounters at home.
04/09 10:58:57 ET