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SENATORS (25-17-6) at CANADIENS (29-14-5) Last 10: Ottawa 6-4-0; Montreal 4-6-0 Season series: The teams split the season series with each team winning twice, once each after regulation. The Ottawa Senators outscored the Montreal Canadiens 11-8 in the four games. Big story: The focal point of the series will be the matchup of premier offensive defensemen Erik Karlsson of the Senators and P.K. Subban of the Canadiens, but really this series will boil down to Montreal’s late-season defensive struggles against Ottawa’s season-long offensive woes. Whichever team solves their problem first will come at the expense of the opposing team’s problem, and will likely make the difference in the series. Team Scope: Ottawa: In spite of the fact they have a healthy Karlsson on the blue line and a healthy Craig Anderson in goal, coach Paul MacLean and his players have been letting everyone know they are the underdogs in this series, and that the pressure is on the Canadiens. Posturing? Certainly. But the Senators also appear to truly believe that they are playing with house money and will be the looser bunch in this series. “I think the pressure might be a little bit more on these guys that we’re playing against, just being at home and they had a great season,” defenseman Marc Methot said Wednesday. “We’re the underdogs, we know that. That just allows us to go out there and play. We have nothing to lose.” The Senators will have Chris Phillips and Milan Michalek in the lineup after both were given a day off from practice Tuesday for some maintenance, and it looks as though Patrick Wiercioch will be scratched on defense while Eric Gryba plays. Canadiens: As a counterpoint to MacLean’s assertion Tuesday that all the pressure was on the Canadiens, coach Michel Therrien gave his own view of things Wednesday. In discussing what he told his five players who will be making their Stanley Cup Playoff debuts on Thursday – Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Raphael Diaz, Max Pacioretty and Jarred Tinordi – Therrien gave his philosophical outlook on the word “pressure.” “Like I told them, don’t feel the pressure, put the pressure,” Therrien said. “Establish the pressure on the other team. That’s the way we have to deal with the pressure.” If things don’t change before game time, Therrien is expected to scratch Colby Armstrong and Jeff Halpern whileTravis Moen and Ryan White – two players who have a more physical role – will be on Therrien’s fourth line with Brandon Prust. Who's hot: For the Canadiens, center Lars Eller had 13 points in his final 12 games, and his rookie linemate Galchenyuk had 12 points in his last 13 games. … For the Senators, Kyle Turris finished the season with two goals and an assist in his final two games, and Karlsson had four assists and played a minimum of 27 minutes in each of his three games since his return from injury. Injury report: The Canadiens are missing defenseman Alexei Emelin (knee). … The Senators are without center Jason Spezza (back). Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Sens #1 Rapid Fire, May 1st, 2013 Quote from: Staying the course Aaand once again,
CANADIENS (27-14-5) at JETS (24-20-3) Last 10: Montreal 4-6-0; Winnipeg 6-3-1 Season series: The Canadiens will be looking for a season sweep in the third and final meeting. Big story: The Jets are fighting for their lives to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and will need a win to have any hope of reaching the postseason. Those hopes may potentially be dashed before this game even ends, seeing as Winnipeg needs either Ottawa or the New York Rangers to lose earlier in the evening to have a chance at playing next week. The Canadiens, meanwhile, will be looking to snap out of a 1-5-0 funk since clinching a playoff berth April 11. Team Scope: Canadiens: Montreal needs a win in Winnipeg to fend off the Toronto Maple Leafs for fourth in the Eastern Conference while also continuing their quest to win the Northeast Division in spite of the past two weeks of poor play. Both the Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins play earlier the same night, so Montreal’s chances of achieving either of those two goals should be much clearer by the end of Thursday’s action. In an attempt to fix what has become a chronic problem defensively with 28 goals allowed in six games – including 10 on the power play – the Canadiens called up defenseman Jarred Tinordi to play against the Jets. “Tinordi did well for us when he first came up and had all the excitement of making his first steps into the NHL,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien told reporters Wednesday. “After that, he lost a little bit of his confidence. We want him to be more physical – that’s part of his game. He’s got to make sure that for a big kid like him, he’s a presence on the ice, and he did exactly that to finish the year in [AHL] Hamilton. He’ll have an opportunity [Thursday] and we believe in the young man.” Jets: The Jets are coming off a devastating 5-3 loss in Washington to the division rival Capitals on Tuesday, one that all but extinguished their chances of making the playoffs. The Jets will need a lot of help even with a win against the Canadiens, needing either the Rangers to lose their two remaining games or the Senators to lose their two final games. But regardless of the status of their playoff chances, the Jets were insisting they would leave everything on the ice in this their final game of the 2012-13 season. “I think you have to [show up Thursday],” captain Andrew Ladd told the Winnipeg Free Press. “As a professional, it's your job to make sure you're coming out. Mathematically we still have a shot so we don't want to sell ourselves short by not showing up.” Who's hot: For the Canadiens, rookie forward Alex Galchenyuk has six goals and four assists in 11 games and Max Pacioretty has three goals and five assists in seven games. … For the Jets, Blake Wheeler has four goals and eight assists in his past eight games, and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien has two goals and four assists in his past seven. Injury report: The Canadiens are missing defenseman Alexei Emelin (knee). …The Jets are missing center Olli Jokinen (lower body) and defensemen Zach Bogosian (upper body) and Tobias Enstrom (back). And for some good luck..