The Montreal Canadiens knocked off the top team in the Eastern Conference to notch their longest winning streak of the season. Now they can keep it going by beating the worst.
Montreal goes for a fifth consecutive victory on Thursday while trying to extend the Philadelphia Flyers’ club-record losing streak to eight games.
The Canadiens climbed within five points of Buffalo, which has a conference-high 50 points, for the Northeast Division lead with a 5-2 road win over the Sabres on Tuesday.
“One game can change a lot of things,” Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. “We wanted to win this game and put pressure on them.”
Carbonneau’s club has reeled off a season-high four straight wins since a shootout loss to Buffalo on Dec. 9. The Canadiens (20-8-5) have scored 19 goals during the win streak.
“We look a little more at the top. But we try to focus on our business and catch them,” said Montreal goalie Cristobal Huet, who made 42 saves Tuesday for his 11th win in 14 starts.
The Canadiens had two more power-play goals in the victory and are 11-for-28 (39.3 percent) with the man advantage over the past six games. They lead the NHL at 23.8 percent for the season.
Philadelphia (8-21-4) is scoreless in 17 power-play chances over its last four games, part of its ongoing downward spiral.
The Flyers set the franchise record for consecutive losses on Tuesday with their seventh in a row, 2-1 to Carolina.
“When times are tough you cannot get down,” Philadelphia’s Todd Fedoruk said. “You do not give up in situations like this. We have to play desperate hockey.”
No team in the league has fewer points than the Flyers’ 20. They’ve been outshot by more than 11 per game over the last four contests, getting held to one goal in three of them.
Montreal has had no such problems offensively of late, with Sheldon Souray leading the way. The veteran defenseman has two goals and nine assists during a five-game point streak.
Canadiens rookie center Maxim Lapierre, recalled from the AHL last week, has scored a goal in three straight games.
The 28-year-old York has six goals and seven assists in 32 games this season.
“He is a player who is a right-handed shot, can play center or right wing, and he gives us a little more versatility and a little more scoring,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said.
York, though, might not be joined on the ice by Peter Forsberg. The Flyers captain sat out Tuesday due to a concussion sustained in Saturday’s loss at Washington. Philadelphia is 0-7-3 when Forsberg doesn’t play.