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Stanley Cup Final

Daily Primer: Canadiens aim to pass Bruins

Thursday, 12.05.2013 / 12:59 AM / NHL Insider

The Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils again Wednesday night and moved within one point of first place in the Atlantic Division. On Thursday, they'll be provided with an opportunity to leapfrog the Boston Bruins in the standings.

The Canadiens, who rallied for a 4-3 shootout win Wednesday, will host the first-place Bruins at Bell Centre, marking the first game of the season between the bitter Original Six rivals (7:30 p.m. ET, RDS, NESN, TSN-HABS).

Montreal has won three in a row and is 7-0-1 in its past eight games. Boston will play for the first time since Saturday, when it earned a 3-1 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Here's a look at all of the action Thursday:

New York Rangers at Buffalo Sabres: Now that the Rangers have locked up franchise goalie Henrik Lundqvist for the next seven years, they turn their attention to getting on a roll and well above the .500 record they've flirted with for much of the season. New York hasn't won at least three games in a row since Nov. 6-10, and the 6-20-2 Sabres provide a golden opportunity to get back into the win column following a 5-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Monday at Madison Square Garden. Buffalo's 45 goals scored is last in the League and is on pace to score 162, which would be the lowest in history since the League expanded in 1967.

Dallas Stars at Toronto Maple Leafs: The Stars hit a high note during their road trip with a win against the Chicago Blackhawks that snapped the defending Stanley Cup champions' six-game winning streak. Dallas is 7-1-0 in its past eight road games and hopes to have Tyler Seguin (concussion) back Thursday. Toronto is enduring a slew of injuries with Phil Kessel (undisclosed), Tyler Bozak (upper body) and Colton Orr (elbow) all questionable.

San Jose Sharks at Pittsburgh Penguins: Two division leaders collide at Consol Energy Center with the Sharks (19-3-5) chasing a seventh straight victory and the Penguins a fifth consecutive win. Pittsburgh (19-9-1) leads the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference off a stirring 3-2 comeback win in overtime against the New York Islanders, thanks to the brilliance of Sidney Crosby. The game also marks Sharks forward Tyler Kennedy's first game against the Penguins since he was acquired by San Jose for a second-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Boston Bruins at Montreal Canadiens: The Bruins, who lead Montreal by one point in the Atlantic, will try to hold off the red-hot Canadiens, who continue to find ways to win. Boston is hoping to have Torey Krug in the lineup; the Bruins defenseman is battling an undisclosed injury, but he did skate Wednesday and traveled with the team north of the border. After a tough start, Canadiens forward David Desharnais has nine points (three goals, six assists) in his past eight games.

Ottawa Senators at Tampa Bay Lightning: The Senators' win against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday moved them within five points of the Maple Leafs for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Ottawa had lost six of its previous eight games, thanks in part to a penalty-kill unit that has allowed 13 goals in the past nine games. The Lightning are feeling the repercussions of life without Steven Stamkos. Their 1-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday was the second straight time and third in the past five games they were kept off the scoreboard. The back-to-back shutouts were the first time Tampa Bay was held without a goal in consecutive games since Nov. 23-25, 2003.

Winnipeg Jets at Florida Panthers: Jets coach Claude Noel believed a disagreement between defenseman Mark Stuart and forward Anthony Peluso that resulted in the two pushing one another Wednesday morning was a welcome sign, especially with Winnipeg coming off a 5-2 win against the Rangers on Monday in response to a loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in its previous game. The Jets' road trip continues against the Panthers, who have allowed at least one power-play goal in each of their past six games and are mired in a three-game losing streak that's seen them outscored 14-5.

New York Islanders at St. Louis Blues: The Islanders dropped another tough game Tuesday, this time in overtime to the Penguins, which extended their winless streak to seven games (0-5-2), two straight in overtime. New York sits third from the bottom in the Eastern Conference and begins a daunting road trip in St. Louis. The Blues remain one of the power teams in the League despite having lost consecutive games for the first time this season.

Carolina Hurricanes at Nashville Predators: The Hurricanes' win against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday was a nice response after back-to-back losses and a stretch that saw six defeats in eight games. Carolina travels to Nashville to face a Predators team normally solid on home ice, but so far unable to get untracked at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville has dropped three straight and is 6-5-2 at home.

Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild: The Blackhawks are back on the road to face the Wild (8 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) without forwards Andrew Shaw (facial injury) and Michal Handzus (illness). Minnesota ended a four-game winless streak Monday with a victory against the Flyers and sit in fourth place in the Central Division with 37 points.

Colorado Avalanche at Edmonton Oilers: Colorado begins a three-game road trip following a 3-2 shootout win against Minnesota on Saturday. After going winless in 16 road starts last season (0-14-2), Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov is 5-2-0 away from home this season. Edmonton is playing the second of a five-game homestand; the Oilers suffered a 6-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes at Rexall Place on Tuesday.

For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory