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Bruins, Habs hope to rebound from tough losses

by Brian Hunter /
BRUINS (16-9-4) at CANADIENS (18-11-2)


Last 10: Boston 5-3-2; Montreal 5-4-1

Season series: Second of six meetings this season between these Northeast Division rivals. Montreal won 3-1 in Boston on Nov. 11 with Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez scoring third-period goals and Carey Price making 34 saves. P.K. Subban also scored for the Canadiens while Zdeno Chara had the Bruins' lone goal.

Big story: Boston gets another opportunity to move into a first-place tie with Montreal in the Northeast. The Canadiens fell at home to the NHL-leading Flyers on Wednesday, their season-high third straight defeat, but the Bruins yielded a hat trick to the Sabres' Drew Stafford and lost in Buffalo.

Team Scope:

Bruins: Playing with the lead didn't seem to suit Boston on Wednesday, as they coughed up a pair of one-goal advantages in very short order. David Krejci opened the scoring with 2:31 left in the first period, but Stafford responded for Buffalo 72 seconds later. Michael Ryder's go-ahead power-play goal at 6:21 of the third was answered by Stafford in only 32 seconds. Stafford then completed the three-goal game with 9:05 left, as the Sabres handed the Bruins a 3-2 defeat. Two of his scores came on man advantages.

"Our penalty kill has got to be better," coach Claude Julien said. "It was not on top of its game. We gave them the shots and the looks they wanted, and we didn't react very well."

Canadiens: Three days off to prepare wasn't enough for Montreal against high-flying Philadelphia, which played for the second night in a row. To the Canadiens' credit, they did rally from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to even the score on a Gionta goal midway through the third period, but James van Riemsdyk netted his second of the game and Claude Giroux added insurance 61 seconds later as the Habs dropped a 5-3 decision.

"For the most part, we did a lot of good things. We've got to figure out how to make it 60 minutes," Gionta said. "If you don't put yourself in a hole like that you have a much better chance of coming out with a win. We did a good job of battling back in the second and third but those mistakes hurt us."

Who's hot: Krejci has 1 goal and 4 assists during a four-game points streak for the Bruins. Tim Thomas, expected to start Thursday, leads the League in goals-against average (1.51) and save percentage (.954). ... Michael Cammalleri has 3 goals and 3 assists during a five-game points streak for the Canadiens.

Injury report: Rookie forward Tyler Seguin missed Boston's game Wednesday with flu-like symptoms. Defenseman Mark Stuart is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a broken finger on his right hand. ... Montreal got forward Scott Gomez back in the lineup Wednesday and is missing only defenseman Andrei Markov, who is on injured reserve following season-ending knee surgery.

Stat pack: Bruins forward Mark Recchi became the ninth NHL player to reach the 1,600-game plateau against the Sabres. ... Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, who sat out several games earlier this month as a healthy scratch, had a goal and an assist against the Flyers but was minus-2 after posting a minus-3 in Saturday's loss to the Maple Leafs.

Puck drop: This is Montreal's final home game of the 2010 calendar year -- they begin a seven-game road trip Sunday in Colorado. In his post-game press conference Wednesday, coach Jacques Martin was blunt about why things have gone south of late.

"I expect players to play within the system," he said. "When we have good support, when we work, when we have five in the picture, we're very effective. When we don't, we're not."

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