The Winnipeg Jets appear to have overcome their rough start.
Meanwhile, the young Montreal Canadiens seem to be overachieving out of the gate.
The visiting Jets will aim for a fourth consecutive victory on Saturday night against the pesky Canadiens, who have won three of their last four.
Winnipeg allowed 19 goals while losing three of its first four games but has surrendered just five in winning three straight since that dismal beginning. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 35 shots while Mason Appleton and Nino Niederreiter each had a goal with an assist during the Jets’ 4-1 victory at Detroit on Thursday.
“This is huge, because you know how we started this season,” Appleton, who has scored in two straight games, told NHL.com.
“You overanalyze early in the season, and maybe we did that, but now we’re heating up.”
Jets star Kyle Connor has also scored in back-to-back games, while Hellebuyck owns a 1.64 goals-against average and .948 save percentage in winning three straight starts.
“(Hellebuyck) has really been going the last couple of games,” Winnipeg associate coach Scott Arniel said.
The 30-year-old Hellebuyck, who’s started all but one of Winnipeg’s games this season, is 11-6-1 and possesses a career 2.96 GAA in 19 starts versus Montreal. However, Laurent Brossoit could get the call for the Jets after he allowed four goals during a 5-3 loss to Vegas in his lone 2023-24 start on Oct. 19.
According to Left Wing Lock, these Canadiens are the NHL’s youngest team with a collective age (as of Oct. 27) of 26.0 years. However, their 4-2-1 star might not be expected from a squad that young.
Montreal rode the talent of 22-year-old budding star Cole Caufield, who has four goals and five assists while recording at least one point in six of those seven games. Caufield scored in overtime, and had two assists, as the Canadiens overcame two two-goal deficits to win 4-3 against Columbus on Thursday.
“Those are the games that can really spark some things as a team,” Canadiens defenseman Mike Matheson, who has two goals with an assist in the last two games, told the Montreal Gazette.
“Hopefully, it builds a lot of momentum and confidence in the group.”
Three of Montreal’s victories on the young season have been decided by one goal.
“I think we’re a resilient group,” Montreal coach Martin St. Louis said. “We know, if we have gas in the tank, I think we can stay the course and keep building our game.”
Sam Montembeault (3.29 goals-against average), one of three goaltenders to start a game this season for the Canadiens, made 33 saves against the Blue Jackets. Meanwhile, teammate Jake Allen has a 2.58 goals-against average while seeing an average of 37.3 shots in going 2-0-1 this season.
Caufield does not have a goal in five career games versus Winnipeg but recorded three assists in those contests.
Connor, though, has 10 goals with 12 assists during 19 career games against the Canadiens.
Winnipeg coach Rick Bowness remains away from the team to be with his wife, Judy, who suffered a seizure last weekend.