National Hockey League

Canadiens face Blackhawks hoping to nurture winning streak

nhl1BLACKHAWKS (21-20-6) AT CANADIENS (20-20-7)
7:30 p.m. ET; SN, RDS, NBCSCH, NHL.TV

As their latest narrow third-period lead teetered toward possible peril Monday night, the Montreal Canadiens did themselves a favor and forgot about recent history.

“I think we just stuck to the game plan,” center Jordan Weal said. “No one was panicking, there was no fumbling in the ‘D’ zone. We were just solid with our plays. Making the right play here, the right play there, and I think that we did that for the 20 minutes in the third. That’s going to give us a lot of confidence moving forward.”

Montreal enters its Wednesday home game against the Chicago Blackhawks with two consecutive victories on the heels of an eight-game losing streak that featured numerous late-game woes.

No more, the Canadiens hope.

Goaltender Carey Price notched a 31-save shutout to preserve a 2-0 home win against the Calgary Flames on Monday. Two nights earlier, Ilya Kovalchuk’s overtime winner vaulted the visiting Canadiens past the Ottawa Senators 2-1.

“I think we have to see that’s the way we have to win games,” Montreal winger Dale Weise said. “You see the way our team is built right now. We have to grind out 1-0, 2-1 games. Pricey obviously was unbelievable (Monday), like he is every night. When we defend the way we did, and then we get some timely scoring from our third and fourth lines, we’re going to win some games.”

Price, who has started the past three games for Montreal and six of seven since the calendar flipped to January, recorded the 46th shutout of his career, tying him with Hall of Famer Ken Dryden for third on the franchise’s all-time list.

“That’s another pretty cool milestone,” Price said. “I’m just looking forward to the next one.”

Canadiens coach Claude Julien must decide whether Price gets that chance against the Blackhawks or takes a night off as the club will conclude a back-to-back set with a visit to Philadelphia on Thursday.

Wednesday marks the second leg of a back-to-back for the Blackhawks, who earned a 3-2 victory at Ottawa on Tuesday behind captain Jonathan Toews’ game-winner 42 seconds into overtime.

Rookie Dominik Kubalik netted the other two goals for Chicago and enters play on a five-game goal streak. The Blackhawks have won two games in a row and three of five.

Chicago overcame a 2-0 deficit after one period Tuesday in the opener of a three-game Canadian road trip. The Blackhawks moved within six points of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference playoff race.

“We really can’t afford to lose many games right now,” said Toews, who added two assists against the Senators. “We weren’t too happy with our start, and I think all the guys came in here — it wasn’t just a few guys, it was everyone — and acknowledged that we’re a lot better than that.

“Lot of hockey left.”

Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher missed his second successive game Monday as he contends with headaches following a concussion that sidelined him previously. Defenseman Ben Chiarot returned to the lineup following a two-game absence caused by an upper-body injury.

–Field Level Media

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