The Montreal Canadiens are making a push for the Northeast Division lead. Despite sitting near the bottom of the Western Conference, the Calgary Flames believe they can make the playoffs.
Concluding a three-game homestand, Montreal will try to avoid a fourth straight loss to Calgary on Monday night.
Since going 2-8-0 from Dec. 10-30, Montreal (25-17-3) has won five of seven and trails first-place Boston by two points. The Canadiens won for the 12th time in 17 games at the Bell Centre on Saturday, 3-2 over the New York Rangers after scoring three times during a 2:46 stretch of the first period.
"We were protecting the two-goal lead instead of keeping our pedal to the metal, but the main thing is we got away with two points," defenseman James Wisniewski said after setting up power-play goals by Roman Hamrlik and Tomas Plekanec.
So did Calgary (20-20-5), posting a 2-1 shootout victory at Toronto on Saturday. The Flames have won two straight since a season high-tying four-game skid, and despite sitting in 14th place in the West, are just seven points out of the final playoff spot.
"We're just trying to focus on small steps and not look at the big picture," said captain Jarome Iginla, who leads the club with 18 goals and 40 points. "... (winning) two out of three (the rest of the way) will get us right around 95 points, and you'll have a good shot at making the playoffs. That's going to take some good hockey, but we think it's possible."
Calgary, which had a five-year playoff streak snapped in 2009-10, is looking to record a point in a fifth straight game for the first time since a five-game win streak Dec. 28, 2009-Jan. 5, 2010.
The Flames will conclude a four-game stretch versus East opponents with their first matchup with Montreal since a 1-0 road victory Nov. 10, 2009.
Iginla scored in that contest while Miikka Kiprusoff made 25 saves to help Calgary end a four-game skid in Montreal.
Coach Brent Sutter will likely give Kiprusoff a second consecutive start Monday after he stopped 32 shots Saturday.
Kiprusoff had gone 0-1-1 with a 4.46 goals-against average in his previous three starts and was criticized by Sutter after stopping four of eight shots in a 6-5 shootout loss at Carolina on Tuesday.
"You can't worry (about the criticism)," Kiprusoff said. "I know pretty well myself what I have to do."
He has won his last three games against Montreal with a 1.67 GAA.
If Carey Price makes his third consecutive start, it will be the first time he faces Calgary.
Price and backup Alex Auld have Montreal near the top of the league with a 2.33 GAA, and the low-scoring Canadiens have been benefiting from a productive power play during their 5-1-1 surge. The club has gone 7 for 24 with the man advantage during that span.
Calgary has not fared nearly as well on the power play of late, going 2 for 26 over the last eight contests.
The Flames are going for their first four-game point streak away from home since a 1-0-3 stretch Jan. 27-Feb. 6.
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