(SportsNetwork.com) - The Montreal Canadiens have a chance to lock up the Atlantic Division on Thursday night, but won't have the services of leading scorer Max Pacioretty when they take on the Detroit Red Wings.
Pacioretty suffered an upper-body injury in Sunday's 4-1 win over Florida when he hit the back of his head against the boards after being checked by Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, who received a two-minute interference minor on the play. The incident took place in the first period and Pacioretty didn't return to action.
Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Pacioretty met with team doctors on Wednesday morning. The forward will be re-evaluated next week and he could still return for the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Pacioretty's 37 goals and 67 points lead the Canadiens, who are two points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Atlantic Division. Montreal can clinch the division with a victory and any type of loss by the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight to the visiting New Jersey Devils.
The Habs would also lock up the Atlantic crown with a point and a regulation setback by the Lightning.
Carey Price will start this encounter looking to set a new single-season franchise record for wins by a goaltender. He picked up his 42nd victory on Sunday, tying Jacques Plante (1955-56, 1961-62) and Ken Dryden (1975-76).
Price is 6-3-1 with a 2.38 goals against average and .922 save percentage in his career versus the Red Wings. He made 24 saves in the win over the Panthers as the Canadiens snapped a three-game slide.
Tomas Plekanec and P.A. Parenteau both posted a goal and an assist, while Brendan Gallagher and Devante Smith-Pelly each added a goal.
"To be honest, it was really a group effort tonight," said Therrien. "It wasn't a single player effort. Everyone raised their game tonight."
The Canadiens visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday to close their regular season.
Detroit, meanwhile, inched closer to a 24th straight postseason berth with Tuesday's 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. The Red Wings trailed by a goal going into the third period, but got scores from Gustav Nyquist and Pavel Datsyuk to rally in front.
Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg both finished with a goal and an assist, while Jimmy Howard posted 30 saves for a Red Wings club that had lost four of five coming in.
"The bottom line for us is that we're in control of our situation," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock. "I think it's important when teams have to fight through adversity to get where they want to go."
Detroit sits third in the Atlantic Division with 97 points, two ahead of both the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators with two games to play. The Bruins and Sens are both in action on Thursday as the Red Wings try to secure third place in the division.
The Red Wings went 22-10-9 at home this season and will also be on the road to end the regular season on Saturday versus Carolina. They won't have forward Erik Cole for the rest of the campaign, including the playoffs, due to a spinal cord contusion, while forward Justin Abdelkader has missed the past two games with a hand injury.
Howard will start tonight and is 3-4-1 versus the Canadiens with a 2.84 GAA and .895 save percentage.
The Red Wings have lost five in a row to the Habs and Montreal is 3-0-1 in the past four encounters at home.