Red Wings-Canadiens Preview

The Montreal Canadiens got extra time to prepare for their final push for the Atlantic Division title, but it wasn't long enough to get leading scorer Max Pacioretty healthy.

At least they still have Carey Price, who could record the winningest season by a goaltender in the franchise's 98-year history.

If they get some help Thursday night, Price and the Canadiens could also wrap up the Atlantic if they at least temporarily deny the Detroit Red Wings a 24th consecutive trip to the postseason.

Montreal (48-22-10) received the benefit of three days' rest before its final two games of the regular season, but Pacioretty will not play in either game. The 37-goal scorer and owner of a career-best 67 points was hurt when he fell backward into the boards in a 4-1 win over Florida on Sunday that snapped an 0-1-2 skid.

"We don't have a guy who can replace Max," forward Dale Weise said. "That's a tough blow for us. We're going to have to find a way, though."

Coach Michel Therrien is hopeful that Pacioretty will return in time for the playoffs. The Canadiens own a two-point lead over Tampa Bay in the division but don't have the non-shootout wins tiebreaker. That means to clinch the Atlantic on Thursday, Montreal will need a win over Detroit as well as a New Jersey victory at Tampa Bay, or one point and a Lightning loss in regulation.

The Red Wings (42-25-13), meanwhile, only need to win one of their final two games to add to their franchise-record streak of playoff appearances because they have the tiebreaker over Ottawa. Detroit was tantalizingly close to wrapping up that spot Tuesday after beating Carolina 3-2, but the Senators erased a three-goal deficit to beat Pittsburgh 4-3 in overtime.

"Now we've got to go win another game," coach Mike Babcock said. "The bottom line for us is we're in control of our situation."

Even if the Red Wings lose Thursday, they would get a playoff spot if Ottawa loses in regulation to the Rangers.

Price has won both of his matchups with Detroit this season, allowing one goal on 53 shots, as part of his 42 victories. He reached that mark with 24 saves Sunday, matching Montreal greats Jacque Plante and Ken Dryden in the franchise's record book.

Plante reached 42 wins in 1955-56 and 1961-62 while Dryden did so in 1975-76.

"It's been a lot of fun this year. That pretty much sums it up," Price told the team's official website. "We've all had success this year and I guess this (record) just reflects that."

One of Price's career-best nine shutouts came in Montreal's last meeting with Detroit, making 25 saves in a 2-0 road win Feb. 16. Price has started four times during the Canadiens' current five-game win streak in the series.

Tomas Plekanec also has keyed that run with four goals and four assists. The center scored for the second straight game Sunday had two assists.

The Red Wings, losers in five of seven on the road, will try to send Montreal to its first three-game home losing streak since 2011-12.

It's unknown if Detroit will be missing 23-goal scorer Justin Abdelkader for a third straight game due to a hand injury.

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