No. 3 Jets at No. 4 Canadiens
6 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS
Montreal leads best-of-7 series, 2-0
The Montreal Canadiens will attempt to win a sixth consecutive game when they host the Winnipeg Jets in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Second Round at Bell Centre on Sunday.
The Canadiens defeated the Jets 1-0 in Game 2 in Winnipeg on Friday and has not lost since being defeated 4-0 by the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 4 of the first round on May 25.
Canadiens captain Shea Weber said Montreal’s belief in each other has snowballed with each win.
“I think it’s pretty standard,” the defenseman said. “I think that’s the whole thing we wanted to do in the playoffs. I think we’re just playing with more confidence and doing it more confidently.
“Obviously we know that’s a very good team over there.”
The Jets again will be without center Mark Scheifele, who will serve the second game of a four-game suspension issued by the NHL Department of Player Safety on Thursday. Scheifele was disciplined for charging Jake Evans after the Canadiens forward scored an empty-net goal with 57 seconds remaining in Montreal’s 5-3 win in Game 1.
Winnipeg could get a boost if center Paul Stastny can play. He missed the first two games of the series with an undisclosed injury.
“We’ve got some confidence going into the other team’s building, and there’s a chance we might get Paul back, which will probably help our group up front,” coach Paul Maurice said.
Stastny has scored two points (one goal, one assist) in four playoff games after he scored 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 56 games during the regular season.
Teams that take a 3-0 lead are 194-4 (98.0 percent) winning a best-of-7 playoff series, including 2-0 this season.
Here are 3 keys for Game 3:
1. Jets offense without Scheifele
Winnipeg took 30 shots at Carey Price in Game 2 but many came from the periphery where the goalie could get a good view of them. The Jets offense, playing without Scheifele, did not manage to produce sustained pressure until the third period, when they had eight shots in the final four minutes.
A return by Stastny would help, but they need to be better at getting traffic in front of Price, who is coming off his eighth postseason shutout.
“We haven’t generated the offense that we’d like to in this series, and we may not, going the first two with Stastny and then Stastny and ‘Scheif’ out,” Maurice said.
2. Canadiens sharpness when shorthanded
Montreal’s penalty kill has been effective at each end of the ice. The Canadiens have scored almost as many goals (two) as they’ve allowed (three) when shorthanded; that included the only goal in Game 2, scored by forward Tyler Toffoli at 1:41 of the second period.
Their penalty kill is operating at 89.3 percent (three goals in 28 opportunities) in the playoffs; the Jets power play has been scoring at 20.0 percent (3-for-15) but was 0-for-2 in Game 2.
3. First goal: feast or famine?
Winnipeg allowed the opening goal in Games 1 and 2, so scoring first is imperative. Or is it? Maurice said it’s an important part of the game but not vital to winning during the playoffs.
“As you get further down the playoff road and a one-goal lead seems like it’s such a big deal that you have a tendency to really protect that, where maybe in the regular season one goal (down) you’re still pushing for all you can get,” Maurice said. “I think the lead isn’t insurmountable in these games. I think you can find a way to get back into it.”
Montreal has scored first in each of its five straight wins.
Jets projected lineup
Kyle Connor — Pierre-Luc Dubois — Blake Wheeler
Nikolaj Ehlers — Andrew Copp — Mathieu Perreault
Kristian Vesalainen — Adam Lowry — Mason Appleton
Jansen Harkins — Nate Thompson — Trevor Lewis
Josh Morrissey — Tucker Poolman
Neal Pionk — Derek Forbort
Logan Stanley — Jordie Benn
Scratched: Dominic Toninato, Ville Heinola, Sami Niku, Eric Comrie, Mikhail Berdin, David Gustafsson, Cole Kehler, Joona Luoto, Dylan Samberg, Marko Dano, Nelson Nogier, C.J. Suess
Injured: Paul Stastny (undisclosed), Dylan DeMelo (lower body), Nathan Beaulieu (hand)
Suspended: Mark Scheifele
Canadiens projected lineup
Artturi Lehkonen — Phillip Danault — Brendan Gallagher
Tyler Toffoli — Nick Suzuki — Cole Caufield
Paul Byron — Jesperi Kotkaniemi — Josh Anderson
Joel Armia — Eric Staal — Corey Perry
Ben Chiarot — Shea Weber
Joel Edmundson — Jeff Petry
Erik Gustafsson — Brett Kulak
Injured: Jake Evans (concussion)
Dubois is expected to remain at center on the top line in the absence of Scheifele. … The Canadiens likely will use the same lineup from Game 2.