(SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of teams battling for supremacy in the Atlantic Division square off for the third time this season on Monday evening as the Montreal Canadiens visit the Detroit Red Wings.
The Canadiens are currently tied for first place in the division with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both clubs have 76 points, but Montreal has played three fewer games than Tampa Bay. The Red Wings have a comfortable advantage for third place and are four points out of the top spot.
Montreal has had the edge in this season series so far, winning the first two meetings of 2014-15 and four straight overall.
The Habs have picked up a point in five consecutive contests (4-0-1) after beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in a shootout. Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais had the goals in the tiebreaker for Montreal, while Carey Price prevented two of three Toronto skaters from scoring.
Gallagher had a goal in regulation and Price made 28 saves for the Canadiens, who are 9-2-1 over their past 12 games.
"It's a lot better when you win games like this. We only had four defensemen for a period and we really stuck with it for the rest of the night," said Desharnais.
Desharnais was referring to the loss of blueliner Sergei Gonchar to an upper- body injury after he took a questionable hit from Leafs forward David Clarkson with around two minutes left in the opening period. Montreal defenseman Nathan Beaulieu fought Clarkson and earned himself a two-minute instigator penalty, five-minute fighting major and 10-minute misconduct.
"You have to look at the overall picture and you have to be pleased at that, with nine of 10 points in our last five games, said Habs head coach Michel Therrien. "We were really up against it without Beaulieu and Gonchar and the guys pulled together."
Gonchar is day-to-day and was not expected to travel to Detroit.
Price figures to start tonight and leads the NHL with a .934 save percentage. He also ranks second with a 1.98 goals against average and is tied for the second-most wins with 31.
He is 5-3-1 lifetime versus the Red Wings with a 2.64 GAA and .915 save percentage in nine games.
The Red Wings hope to avoid a third straight setback tonight, though they did earn a point on Saturday in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Detroit did have its six-game home winning streak halted, though, despite 34 saves from Jimmy Howard in his first start since Jan. 10 due to a groin injury.
"Sometimes I felt I was a little ahead of the play and there were other times when I felt I was a little behind the play," said Howard. "But that's going to come the more I play, the more I'll feel at home out there."
He will get a chance to round further into form tonight and is 3-3-1 with a 3.12 GAA and .884 save percentage in seven career games versus the Canadiens.
Pavel Datsyuk scored a pair of goals and added an assist versus the Jets, and Niklas Kronwall and Darren Helm lit the lamp. Tomas Tatar had two assists.