SPORTS

NHL: 4 things to know for Thursday night

03/12/2015 12:15 EDT | Updated 05/12/2015 05:59 EDT
The Canadiens host the Senators in a duel for important points, the Jets try to keep the Panthers at bay in their quest for the post-season and the Canucks look for three wins in a row.

Here's what you need to know for Thursday night NHL action.

Canadiens and Senators fight for crucial points

The Canadiens will host the surging Senators as Montreal comes off a four-game road trip and a 1-0 loss to the Lightning Tuesday night. 

Montreal's Sergei Gonchar will play his 1,300th regular season NHL game. The 40-year-old veteran defenceman played three seasons with the Senators between 2011 and 2013.

The Canadiens sit in second spot in the Eastern Conference behind the Rangers. Both teams have 91 points but New York has played one less game so hold the No. 1 spot. Montreal is fighting for the President's Trophy and home-ice advantage during the Stanley Cup and need the points.

Despite losing 3-1 to the Bruins on Tuesday, the Senators are hunting for a playoff spot, winning eight of their past 10 games and sitting fourth in the Eastern Conference wild card race with 71 points. The loss to Boston is a tough one for Ottawa as the Bruins now have a seven-point lead over the Sens and sit in second spot in the wild card race. Ottawa won the last two meetings with the Habs.

Jets and Panthers vie for wild card spots

Both the Jets and Panthers are trying to earn a wild card spot in their respective conferences and with both races tight, the points on the line tonight are key.

Winnipeg holds the second wild card spot in the west with 78 points, three behind the Minnesota Wild and only one up on the Los Angeles Kings. The Jets are coming off a tough loss to the Blues Tuesday where they tied the game after being down 4-1 after the second period, going down 5-4. 

Florida will have to do without goalie Roberto Luongo who is out with an upper-body injury. The Panthers sit six points behind Boston for the second wild card spot in the east.

The Jets have won more road games then the Panthers have won home games this season and the Jets won the last meeting Jan. 13 in a blowout, 8-2.

Canucks go for 3 in a row

The Vancouver Canucks will be going for their third consecutive win when they host the Kings who are hungry for wins on their quest to secure a Western Conference wild card spot.

The Canucks sit second in the Pacific Division with 80 points, one up on the Flames. Vancouver rookie forward Ronalds Kenins will return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for two games. Kenins recorded 10 points in his first 14 games and could bring some offence while veteran forward Brad Richardson remains out with a foot injury.

B.C. native and Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis will play his 800th NHL game.

Oilers look for a win in Pittsburgh

The Edmonton Oilers are looking to end a five-game slide with a rare win over the Penguins but they could be without forward Benoit Pouliot who has been absent recently due to an illness. Pouliot missed a game and a practice this week and it's unknown whether he will play.

Oilers defenceman Nikita Nikitin is also not expected to play as he is recovering from a shoulder injury.

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