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Canadiens, Bruins meet for first place

by Mike Battaglino /

CANADIENS (20-7-5) at BRUINS (21-7-3)


Last 10: Montreal 6-3-1; Boston 6-4-0

Season series: This is the third of four meetings; the last is April 6 in Montreal. The Bruins won there, 2-1, on Feb. 6, with the Canadiens triumphant in Boston, 4-3, on March 3.

Big story: First place in the Northeast Division is at stake, with the teams tied at 45 points. Montreal has held at least a share of the top spot since Feb. 19, with Boston tying them for first twice. On March 11, the Canadiens led by three points, but the Bruins had four games in hand. Boston used all of them up (regaining one Tuesday night) but was unable to exceed the difference.

Team Scope:

Canadiens: Montreal has one goal in its past two games after being shut out by the Pittsburgh Penguins, 1-0, on Tuesday. The Canadiens have allowed three goals while losing two in a row in regulation for the first time this season.

"During the season, you play some games and you don't deserve to win, and you win. And we played well these last two games, and probably deserved a better outcome," forward Michael Ryder told the team's website Tuesday. "But it is what it is, and we're still in a good position, and we have to make sure we have a big game tomorrow against Boston. It's huge, and we have to make sure we're ready for that."

After a five-game winning streak, the Canadiens are 1-2-1.

"We've got to take the positive out of it," goaltender Carey Price said. "If we keep playing the way we are, we're not going to lose that many games like that. I think we've just got to stick to it."

Bruins: After opening the season with 14 games in the first 34 days, Boston played 17 in 30. The Bruins have not had two days off between games since Feb. 22-23.

The Bruins lost three of four -- their worst stretch of the season -- before a 3-2 shootout win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.

"We're a little heavy right now in our play, and we've lost some speed and everything else that comes with it," coach Claude Julien said after the game.

"Nothing is as quick as it has been," Julien added. "And we're trying to figure out whether the fatigue factor has played into that. And I think we are tired, so we're going to have to look into that a little bit more."

The Bruins cancelled practice scheduled for Tuesday.

Who's hot: Price has stopped 40 of the past 43 shots he's faced (.930 save percentage). He has 16 games allowing two goals or fewer. … Bruins forward Milan Lucic scored for the first time in 16 games Monday.

Injury report: Canadiens forwards Rene Bourque (concussion) and Brandon Prust (shoulder), and defenseman Raphael Diaz (concussion) are out. … Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid (shoulder) could be out closer to six weeks than to the original prognosis of 3-4. Defenseman Johnny Boychuk (foot) is day-to-day.

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