The Montreal Canadiens are surely disappointed with their latest result. A matchup with a Southeast Division opponent should lift their spirits.
Hoping to keep their lead in the Northeast, the Canadiens seek to remain perfect against the Southeast this season Tuesday night when they host the sputtering Winnipeg Jets.
After missing the playoffs last season, Montreal (23-8-5) is all but guaranteed to be there this spring and could win its first division title since 2007-08. The Canadiens are one point ahead of Boston in the Northeast and five behind Pittsburgh for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
A good portion of Montreal's success has come against the Southeast, winning all 10 meetings and outscoring those clubs 37-16. That run continued with a 4-1 victory over Carolina on Monday before the team's three-game overall streak was snapped with Wednesday's 5-3 loss in Philadelphia.
The Canadiens appeared headed for another win with a third-period lead, but the Flyers beat Carey Price twice in 90 seconds and added an empty-net goal for the final margin.
"They got four pretty lucky goals, in my opinion,' Price said. "That's the difference.'
It was far from Montreal's best effort as it was held to a season-low 17 shots, just two in the third period.
"We just didn't match their intensity, it's just that simple,' coach Michel Therrien said.
Tomas Plekanec - the team leader with 13 goals - left midway though the second period with a lower-body injury and his status for this game is uncertain.
Price could get a rare night off after 10 straight starts by giving way to Peter Budaj, who has posted a 1.60 goals-against average while winning his last five appearances. Budaj, however, is winless in four career games against the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise.
Although the Jets (18-18-2) are still atop the Southeast, their lead has been trimmed to two points over surging Washington. Winnipeg, which has played two more games than the Capitals, has left itself little room for error with potentially only the Southeast champion making the playoffs.
The Jets will try to avoid a winless road trip and a season-high fifth straight defeat after losses to the New York Rangers and Islanders on consecutive days.
"We didn't play well either night,' goaltender Ondrej Pavelec said. "We have to figure out something soon.'
The Jets failed to score in the third period for the fourth consecutive game in Tuesday's 5-2 loss to the Islanders. Defenseman Paul Postma had both goals for Winnipeg, which has scored 13 times in its last eight games and is 2 for 26 on the power play during that span.
Captain Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler are tied for the team lead with 14 goals, but both are mired in droughts. Ladd has gone 11 games without scoring and Wheeler is goalless in eight straight.
The Canadiens have won three in a row - all at home - and six of seven overall against the Jets. Plekanec snapped a third-period tie in Montreal's 4-3 home victory Jan. 29.
Both teams were relatively quiet at Wednesday's trading deadline. The Canadiens acquired depth defenseman Davis Drewiske from Los Angeles, while the Jets claimed forward Mike Santorelli off waivers from Florida.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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