Habs aim to push win streak to 4 vs. Blue Jackets

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Montreal Canadiens aim to extend their winning streak to four games when they welcome the Columbus Blue Jackets for Thursday's clash at the Bell Centre.

The Canadiens have won three in a row and four of their last five games and recently put the finishing touches on a 3-1-0 road trip. Montreal closed the swing with Tuesday's shutout victory in Winnipeg before returning home to open a five-game homestand, which begins Thursday against the Blue Jackets.

Montreal, however, hasn't fared well against Columbus in recent years, with the Jackets claiming two straight and four of the last five meetings. Columbus also boasts a record of 4-2-0 with one tie in its seven all-time trips to the Bell Centre.

The Canadiens hope goaltender Carey Price can stay hot on Thursday, as they try to reverse the recent trend against Columbus. Price notched his first shutout of the season by turning aside all 36 shots he faced in Tuesday's 3-0 triumph over the Jets.

Price has made four starts against the Blue Jackets in his career and is 1-2-1 with a 2.70 goals against average in those outings.

Brandon Prust and P.K. Subban scored in the first period for the Canadiens on Tuesday and Danny Briere added an empty-netter in the closing minutes. It was the first goal in a Habs sweater for Briere, who signed a two-year deal with Montreal over the summer.

"We were ready to play. We wanted to dictate the pace. We wanted to surprise them with our intensity," Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien said.

After this evening's tilt, Montreal will continue its homestand with Saturday's test against Nashville.

Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty is questionable for Thursday's game after leaving the game against the Jets with a lower-body injury. Pacioretty has two goals and an assist in five games this season.

While the Canadiens are shooting for a fourth straight victory on Thursday, the Blue Jackets will try to avoid a third consecutive loss. Both recent setbacks came in regulation, as Columbus dropped a 3-1 home decision Saturday against Boston before losing 2-1 Tuesday night in Detroit.

Jonas Gustavsson turned aside 36 shots to help the Red Wings earn the close win over Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves in the loss, while Cam Atkinson scored the only goal for the Blue Jackets.

"As a coach it's disappointing because this is where you want your guys to get rewarded for all their hard work," said Columbus head coach Todd Richards. "I thought we carried the play much of the game and outplayed them."

The recent tilt in Motown marked the start of a three-game road trip for Columbus, which was 2-0 as the visitors before losing Tuesday's contest.

The Blue Jackets are scheduled to complete their swing Saturday in Washington.