WINNIPEG -- David Desharnais scored a pair of third-period goals to lead the Montreal Canadiens
to a 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets
in NHL play Thursday night.
Montreal (28-14-5) kept pace with the Boston Bruins
in the race for the Northeast Division title. Both clubs have 61 points, however, the Bruins have a game in hand.
Boston defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning
2-0 on Thursday.
The Jets, meanwhile, had their playoff hopes dashed even before the start of the final period. The Carolina Hurricanes couldn't hold a lead and lost 4-3 in overtime to the New York Rangers
, while the Ottawa Senators
knocked off the Washington Capitals
2-1 in overtime, officially eliminating the Jets from the race for the final playoff spot.
Deflated, Winnipeg (24-21-3) came out and quickly blew a 2-1 lead in the third period, surrendering three straight Montreal goals. The Jets finished with 51 points and have to settle for ninth in the conference. Rene Bourque
and Brendan Gallagher
also scored for Montreal. James Wright
and Blake Wheeler scored for Winnipeg, who led 1-0 and 2-1 at the period breaks.
Winnipeg made a late charge in April, winning six of their last eight games, including a streak of 5-0-1 at home, before losing 5-3 to the Capitals in Washington on Tuesday.
There's still plenty to be decided in the final three days of the NHL regular season.
The Senators, Rangers and New York Islanders
all have 54 points, but Ottawa has two games left while the New York clubs each have one game remaining. The Islanders lost 2-1 to Philadelphia on Thursday night.
Wright opened the scoring 9:10 into the first period for Winnipeg, rifling a shot past Montreal goalie Carey Price
for just his second goal of the season.
The Canadiens tied it when Bourque scored his sixth of the season at 9:54 of the middle frame, gathering a loose puck off a scramble and lifting it high over Winnipeg netminder Ondrej Pavelec
But Wheeler's 19th goal of the season at 14:43 regained the lead for Winnipeg as the lanky winger found the puck beneath a pile of bodies in the crease and slid it under Price's pad.
Montreal pulled even again just 2:07 into the third period when Pavelec couldn't handle Gallagher's slapshot from the faceoff dot. The goal was the rookie's 14th of the campaign.
Then Desharnais went to work, potting his 10th at 7:59 with the Canadiens on a two-man advantage. He fired his 11th just over three minutes later.
Price finished with 23 saves, while Pavelec was forced to make 26 saves.
NOTES: The Canadiens won the two previous matchups between the clubs this season (4-3 and 4-1), both at Bell Centre in Montreal. ... Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban, a candidate for the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman, was loudly booed by Jets fans every time he touched the puck Thursday night. ... Jets' captain Andrew Ladd will post the best points-per-game average by a player with the Jets franchise in four seasons. Ladd came into the game with 46 points (18 goals, 28 assists) in 47 games, good for a 0.98 P/G average. He was 15th in league scoring after Wednesday's action. ... Jets' blueliner Dustin Byfuglien played his 450th career game Thursday. ... Pavelec ranked second among NHL goalies in shots against (1,221) and saves (1,106) entering the game. ... Canadiens' goalie Price has struggled lately. He arrived in Winnipeg with just one win in his last six starts, registering a save percentage of .838 and a 3.67 goals-against average during that time.
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