The Canadiens can clinch a playoff spot with a victory while the Blackhawks can move a step closer to defending their Stanley Cup title if they win Tuesday night’s “Original Six” matchup at Bell Centre.
Montreal (42-30-7) is tied for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with the Rangers. The Canadiens lead ninth-place Carolina by four points, and have a huge edge in non-shootout wins over the Hurricanes (39-33).
That means any kind of victory Tuesday will be enough for Montreal to gain its fourth straight berth.
Chicago (42-28-8) is in eighth place in the West, one point ahead of ninth-place Calgary and two in front of 10th-place Dallas. The Blackhawks cannot clinch Tuesday.
Montreal seems to have broken out of its slump when it was shut out three straight times March 22-26. The Canadiens have won two of three since, as Mathieu Darche(notes) scored twice in a 3-1 victory at New Jersey on Saturday.
“I thought we played well away from the puck and we have to do that to be successful,” coach Jacques Martin said. “The goals from Darche were really good examples of the kinds of goals you need to score at this time of year.”
Those are the kind of goals that Chicago is not scoring lately. The Blackhawks have been shut out in two of their last three games, falling 2-0 at home to Tampa Bay on Sunday.
“We got a team that can score goals,” defenseman Brian Campbell(notes) said. “It’s just I think we can battle a bit more to get to some of the areas that we’re not getting to right now, to score maybe a few ugly goals, and that’s kind of what it’s going to take for us.”
Chicago has been held without a power-play goal in three of five games since Sharp went down. The Blackhawks still boast the league’s second-best power play at 23.9 percent.
“We need more, especially being down,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’re certainly looking for more.”
“It’s pretty special,” Crawford said. “Obviously I spent my childhood there, I was a huge Canadiens fan growing up. I’ve been there a lot of times to watch hockey games. I can’t even say, I don’t even have the words to even mention how special it is to be going back there and checking it out and playing a game there so that’ll be great.”
The Blackhawks have lost their last four visits to Montreal, and seven of 10 meetings overall. Sharp scored the winning goal with 4:10 left in last season’s 3-2 home victory Oct. 30.