Habs, Jets put 3-game win streaks on the line

11:03 AM, Jan 29, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - Two teams riding three-game winning streaks will do battle on Tuesday, as the Montreal Canadiens host the Winnipeg Jets at the Bell Centre.

In addition to winning three in a row, the Canadiens received some excellent news off the ice on Monday when they finally ended their contract dispute with defenseman P.K. Subban. The sides agreed to a two-year, $5.7 million deal, ending the standoff before it lingered too long into the lockout-shortened season.

It's unclear when the 23-year-old will make his season debut, but he expects to join the club on Wednesday in Ottawa and it's possible he could play that evening against the Senators. If not, Subban will likely target Saturday's home game against Buffalo for a return.

"Nothing matches being in a game," Subban said via conference call. "But mentally and physically I know I'm ready to go and I'm ready to help them wherever they need me to help them."

Subban registered seven goals and 29 assists in 81 games for Montreal last season. In 2010-11, his first full NHL campaign, the former second-round pick compiled 14 goals and 38 points.

The Canadiens have scored four goals in each of their victories this season and that was just enough offense to defeat the previously unbeaten New Jersey Devils on Sunday. Andrei Markov scored a power-play goal with 38 seconds remaining in overtime to lift Montreal to a 4-3 home win over the Devils.

Montreal allowed the Devils to fight back from a pair of two-goal deficits to force overtime, but the Habs would eventually secure the two points by taking advantage of a power play in OT.

With 59 seconds left in the extra session, New Jersey defenseman Andy Greene went to the penalty box for holding. Montreal then won the ensuing face-off and Rene Bourque fired a one-timer that went wide of the net. The puck caromed off the end boards and Markov chipped it over a prone Martin Brodeur, giving the Canadiens their first home win over New Jersey since March 11, 2008. They had lost eight straight to the Devils at the Bell Centre.

"It was a challenge for us against a team which had not lost," Markov said. "We stuck with our system and it worked."

Markov has recorded four goals in four games this season and is tied with Raphael Diaz for the team lead with five points.

Brandon Prust, Ryan White and Brendan Gallagher also lit the lamp for Montreal, while Carey Price made 22 saves.

Gallagher and fellow rookie Alex Galchenyuk received good news on Monday as the club has decided to keep both players in Montreal rather than returning them to their junior teams. Galchenyuk has recorded a goal and two assists in four games and Gallagher has a goal and an assist in three outings.

Montreal played Sunday without defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who was sidelined with an injury caused by a puck to the face. Kaberle is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday.

The Jets, meanwhile, have earned recent wins over Washington, Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders to give the club three consecutive victories for the first time since Feb. 16-19 of last season.

Winnipeg's last two victories have come on home ice and the Jets earned a thrilling overtime win Sunday against the Islanders. Evander Kane pushed a rebound across the goal line 1:59 into the extra session, lifting the Jets to a 5-4 victory at MTS Centre.

The Islanders scored three times in the first 9:53 of the third period to go up 4-2, but Winnipeg responded with goals from Dustin Byfuglien and Alexander Burmistrov 65 seconds apart to force overtime.

In the extra session, Islanders forward Keith Aucoin turned the puck over in the offensive zone, resulting in an odd-man rush for the Jets. Olli Jokinen carried the puck down the left wing and fired a slap shot from the face-off circle that struck the far post after getting past New York goalie Evgeni Nabokov. Kane followed up the play and banged home the rebound.

"I knew Olli had it (puck) and there was nobody in my way, and I was actually looking for the breakaway," Kane said. "But Olli kept it and I knew he was shooting it when I saw the big wind-up and he has a really hard shot, so I almost flew by (the net), because I thought he was going to bury it. But thank goodness I didn't."

Al Montoya, a former Islander, stopped 21 shots in his Winnipeg debut.

The Jets could match their longest winning streak from 2011-12 with another victory on Tuesday.

The Canadiens won three of four meetings against Winnipeg in 2011-12 and Montreal has claimed five of six in this series overall. The Jets/Thrashers franchise has lost three straight and seven of its last nine games in Montreal.

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