Nearly three months ago, the Montreal Canadiens spoiled the Jets' return to Winnipeg.
The Jets look to return the favor tonight and prevent Canadiens interim head coach Randy Cunneyworth from picking up his first victory since taking over as the two clubs clash again tonight in Manitoba.
The Jets relocated from Atlanta to Winnipeg this offseason and opened up their season with a home game against the Canadiens on Oct. 9. With the city celebrating the return of the NHL, the Habs played spoiler by logging a 5-1 win, getting goals from five different players.
Tomas Plekanec led the way with three points and Carey Price logged 30 saves in Montreal's third straight victory over the former Thrashers, but that win was the lone one for the Habs during a 1-5-2 start.
Montreal has struggled to get out of that hole since and decided to fire head coach Jacques Martin last Saturday. Assistant Cunneyworth was named the interim head coach for the remainder of the season, but has lost all three of his games as the bench boss. The Canadiens dropped their fourth in a row overall last night, falling 5-1 in Chicago.
"Sometimes it's like a snowball effect," said Budaj. "We're trying to do too much. We're not playing the way we want to."
Montreal showed some positive signs in a one-goal loss to rival Boston on Monday, but appeared to take a discouraging step back on Wednesday.
"We have some angry guys in there, frustrated guys, because we want better results," Cunneyworth said. "We'll see if we can kind of turn it in our direction, use that frustration to our advantage [Thursday], but obviously we've to get our heads into it for a complete game"
The Jets, meanwhile, will try to extend the Habs' struggles and get back on their own winning track following a 3-2 shootout loss to the Islanders on Tuesday. Ondrej Pavelec was excellent through 65 minutes, stopping 31 shots before allowing a pair of skaters to score in the shootout.
"Pavelec was real good. He played strong. He helped us to at least get to a shootout," Jets head coach Claude Noel said. "Thank him for the point."
Antropov had Winnipeg's lone goal versus Montreal in October, while Pavelec allowed all five goals on 22 shots.