CANADIENS (27-13-5) at DEVILS (17-18-10)
TV: RDS, TSN-HABS, MSG 2
Last 10: New Jersey 2-7-1; Montreal 4-6-0
Season series: The Canadiens have won two of their three games this season. On Jan. 27, defenseman Andrei Markov scored a power-play goal with 38 seconds left in overtime to give the Canadiens a 4-3 win at Bell Centre. In the second meeting, March 16 at Prudential Center, Carey Price made 32 saves and Tomas Plekanec scored 6:49 into the third to give the Habs a 2-1 victory.
Big story: Since clinching a Stanley Cup Playoff berth on April 11, the Canadiens have gone 1-4-0 while allowing 25 goals, with Price yielding 19 of those goals. Montreal's game with the Devils will be its first of three on the road to close the 2012-13 regular season. The Canadiens still are playing to earn home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The fourth-place Habs have three games remaining and lead fifth-place Toronto by four points.
Devils: New Jersey officially was eliminated from playoff contention Sunday following a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers. It's the first time in six years that one of the Stanley Cup finalists failed to make the playoffs the following season; both the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers missed the postseason in 2007 after playing for the Stanley Cup the year before.
"It's difficult to take," Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said of not making the playoffs. "We have a great hockey team and we competed real hard all year. You don't like to make any excuses, but there's a lot of different reasons why we're not there. There's better teams than us that are going to be competing for the Stanley Cup."
Canadiens: Not only has Montreal lost four of its past five starts, but the opposition has jumped out to an early lead in each of the losses. On Saturday, Alex Ovechkin scored the first of his two goals on the Capitals' first shot of the first period, and Troy Brouwer scored the first of his two goals 68 seconds later en route to the Washington Capitals' 5-1 victory.
"My focus as a coach is to make sure that we get the practice," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "We have three games coming up this week and my responsibility is to make sure we're ready for the playoffs."
Who's hot: Montreal left wing Max Pacioretty has two goals and five points over the past four games.
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