Jets try to keep playoff dreams alive vs. Habs

All the Winnipeg Jets can do after Thursday night's game against the Montreal Canadiens is wait.

The hopeful Jets wrap their regular season schedule in a meeting with the Habs needing a victory and a lot of help to reach the playoffs for only the second time in club history.

Winnipeg was making a late charge to reach the playoffs for the first time since an appearance in 2007 as the Atlanta Thrashers. The Jets were 6-0-1 in their previous seven games before a 5-3 setback to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.

The win clinched the Southeast Division for the Capitals, giving the Jets one less path to the playoffs. Winnipeg is ninth overall in the Eastern Conference with 51 points, one back of both the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators for the last two playoff berths.

However, the Rangers have two games remaining in the season and visit the Carolina Hurricanes tonight, while the Sens still have three games left to go and play at Washington.

Winnipeg got goals from Evander Kane, Blake Wheeler and Nik Antropov on Tuesday night, but Ondrej Pavelec allowed four scores on 40 shots faced.

"They played better than us tonight," said Winnipeg head coach Claude Noel. "They can make plays and do make plays. We stuck with the game and got back in it, but then we let it get away."

Added Antropov: "It's frustrating. To lose a game like that, it was basically our Game 7 in the playoffs. And it's frustrating to lose that way."

Antropov was returning to action after missing eight in a row due to a lower body injury, but the Jets are resuming their postseason charge without defensemen Tobias Enstrom (back) and Zach Bogosian (concussion-like symptoms) as well as forwards Olli Jokinen (high ankle sprain) and Kyle Wellwood (hand).

The Canadiens are in the postseason for the fifth time in six seasons, but are looking to capture their first Northeast Division title since 2008. They haven't done themselves any favors, losing five of their past six to remain tied with the Boston Bruins for first place with 59 points.

The Bruins, who host the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight, have three games left in the regular season to just two for the Habs, who sit fourth overall in the East due to the B's owning the tiebreaker. Montreal is four points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have two games left on their schedule and visit the Florida Panthers tonight.

On the same night that the Bruins lost to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Canadiens could not come back from a three-goal deficit in falling 3-2 to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.

Carey Price stopped 21-of-24 shots while Lars Eller and Max Pacioretty both scored for the Canadiens.

"We made a game of it, but we didn't make a good enough push in the third period," Canadiens forward Brian Gionta said.

Montreal, which ends its season-closing road trip in Toronto on Saturday, has won four straight and seven of its past eight versus the Jets, taking the first two of three meetings this season at home.

The Canadiens split two trips to Winnipeg last season.