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Winnipeg Jets, Montreal Canadiens ready to begin North Division final

WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets host the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of the NHL's North Division final tonight.

Both teams recorded upsets in the first round of the playoffs.

The third-place Jets swept Connor McDavid's second-place Edmonton Oilers, while the fourth-place Habs shocked the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games.

The Jets have enjoyed far more rest. They finished their series on Victoria Day, a full week before the Habs eliminated Toronto on Monday.

While Winnipeg took the nine-game regular-season series with six wins, three of the victories were decided in overtime.

The marquee battle is in net with reigning Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck of the Jets starting down the rink at Canadiens star Carey Price, who won the same award in 2015.

Manitoba changed its public health orders to allow up to 500 health care workers fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend the game, as well as the immediate family members of the Jets' players and staff.

"While we're telling most Manitobans to stay home, that's not the message we give to the health care workers. We're asking them to come in and to put themselves in front of this virus every single day,"  said Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of Manitoba's vaccine task force. 

"And so this is a tiny token of gratitude compared to the monumental efforts that health care workers have put in the last year and a half."

Reimer said all all in attendance will be required to wear a mask.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2021.

The Canadian Press