Published January 13, 2015
(SportsNetwork.com) - The red-hot Montreal Canadiens will shoot for a fifth straight win when they welcome the Nashville Predators for a meeting at the Bell Centre on Saturday.
The Canadiens began the season with a 1-2-0 record before rattling off four consecutive victories. With another victory on Saturday, Montreal would match its longest win streak from last season's lockout-shortened campaign. The Habs had two five-game winning streaks in 2013 before bowing out in the opening round of the playoffs to Ottawa.
However, Montreal will try to continue its winning ways without the services of winger Max Pacioretty over the next few weeks. The American suffered a strained left hamstring in a win over Winnipeg on Tuesday, causing him to sit out Thursday's victory over Columbus.
Pacioretty, who led Montreal with 39 points last season, is expected to miss at least three weeks of action with the hamstring issue. He has two goals and one assist in five games this season.
"It's bad luck, but it could have been a lot worse," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien told NHL.com. "We're going to take the time to make sure (Pacioretty) gets better. But in the meantime it's not such bad news. It could have been a lot worse."
Tomas Plekanec scored the game-winning goal with 1:07 left to lead the Canadiens to a 5-3 victory over the visiting Blue Jackets.
With the game tied at 3-3 late in regulation, the Canadiens won a faceoff in their own zone and quickly advanced the puck up ice. Brian Gionta skated with the disc along the right boards and centered it to Plekanec, who briefly skated in before firing a wrister from just inside the blue line past Sergei Bobrovsky for the go-ahead marker.
Plekanec scored again 49 seconds later with a shorthanded empty-netter to account for the final margin.
Rene Bourque, Michael Bournival and Andrei Markov also tallied for the Canadiens, while Carey Price made 30 saves in the win.
Thursday's win over Columbus marked the start of a five-game homestand for the Habs, who are 2-1-0 as the host this season.
Nashville will try to get back in the win column Saturday after having a two- game win streak halted with Thursday's shootout loss against visiting Los Angeles. Anze Kopitar's goal in the third round of the shootout lifted the Kings to the 2-1 win at Bridgestone Arena.
After the first five shooters failed to light the lamp in the shootout, Kopitar went to his backhand and slid a shot past Pekka Rinne for the game- winner. L.A. goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped 34-of-35 shots through regulation and overtime and turned aside all three Nashville attempts in the shootout phase.
"We just couldn't find an answer for Jonathan Quick," Nashville head coach Barry Trotz said. "He made some incredible saves in the second period. I think if he didn't have a night like he did, we probably would have lit them up."
Matt Cullen scored the lone goal for Nashville, while Rinne had 29 saves in defeat. The Predators also went 0-for-4 on the man advantage.
Nashville will aim for its first road win of the season on Saturday, having posted an 0-2-0 mark away from the Music City in 2013-14. The Preds are opening a three-game swing on Saturday and also will visit Winnipeg and Minnesota during the trip.
The Predators have won two of three and three of the last five meetings against the Canadiens overall. Nashville also has claimed two of the past three encounters at the Bell Centre.