(SportsNetwork.com) - The red-hot Montreal Canadiens hope to post a fifth straight victory when they begin a four-game homestand with Saturday's matinee battle against the Washington Capitals.
The Canadiens picked up a fourth consecutive win Thursday, edging the New York Rangers 1-0 at Madison Square Garden. All-Star goaltender Carey Price made 24 saves to record the win in his third shutout of the season.
The victory pushed Montreal into a tie with Detroit for second place in the Atlantic and also leaves the Habs one point shy of Tampa Bay for the division lead. The Lightning recorded a 5-1 blowout win over the Red Wings on Thursday.
Max Pacioretty scored the lone goal for the Habs on Thursday, tallying his team-leading 22nd goal of the season with 4:17 left in the third. Pacioretty snapped a shot from above the right circle through the legs of Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh and past Henrik Lundqvist for the game's only score.
"The guys played very well, we got pretty lucky out there a few times. That's part of the game," Price said.
Montreal went 3-0 on a recent three-game homestand from Jan. 17-27 before picking up the road win in the Big Apple. The Habs own a 16-5-2 mark at the Bell Centre this season and they will continue this homestand tomorrow afternoon against Arizona.
While Sunday's starter is unknown for Montreal, Price will get the call today and he is 4-9-3 with a 3.24 goals against average in his career against Washington.
Backup Dustin Tokarski notched a victory against the Caps in the only meeting between the clubs this season, making 29 saves in a 2-1 shootout win in D.C. on Oct. 9. Despite that setback, Washington has claimed 10 of the past 13 games in this series overall and has won seven in a row at the Bell Centre.
Washington halted a four-game slide its last time out, posting a 4-0 win over visiting Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
Alex Ovechkin scored twice and Braden Holtby posted his fifth shutout of the season to help the Caps down the Penguins. Ovechkin, a four-time winner of the Rocket Richard Trophy, has an NHL-best 29 goals this season.
The Russian winger is one goal shy of becoming the fifth player in NHL history to record at least 30 goals in each of his first 10 seasons. The other four are Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy, Jari Kurri and Mike Gartner.
Mike Green tallied a goal and an assist, Eric Fehr also scored and Nicklas Backstrom supplied two assists to help Washington pick up its first win since beating Philadelphia 1-0 on Jan. 14.
"We stayed diligent. We kept pushing the pace. We kept just hounding the puck," Washington head coach Barry Trotz said. "I thought we just had more determination in our game. We actually just made sure we weren't going to be outworked."
Holtby made 27 saves to earn his 16th career shutout. He is 5-0-1 with a .98 goals against average in his career against Montreal, while backup Justin Peters is 0-2-0 with a 4.22 GAA in three lifetime appearances versus the Habs.
Trotz could use both of his goaltenders this weekend, as Washington is scheduled to host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.