Time may be running out on the Boston Bruins in their quest to reach the postseason. A recent slump also has the Montreal Canadiens on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
The struggling Original Six rivals will both look for improved efforts Saturday night when they face off at TD Banknorth Garden.
After a four-game winning streak, the Bruins (30-28-5) have lost their last three games - including a 4-3 overtime defeat Thursday night to the NHL-worst Philadelphia - and are tied for 12th place in the East, eight points behind Carolina and the New York Islanders for the eighth and final playoff spot.
"We're still in the hunt and we've got to play a lot harder to get ourselves in that position," said Boston coach Dave Lewis, whose team is trying to avoid missing the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Montreal (33-28-6), meanwhile, has lost its last two games and three of four to fall one point back of the Hurricanes and Islanders.
Both teams enter this contest with defensive concerns. The Bruins have given up 13 goals during their three-game skid and allowed more than 50 shots on goal in two of those defeats.
The Canadiens, meanwhile, matched a season high in goals allowed in Friday night's 8-5 loss at Buffalo, their third straight game yielding at least four goals.
The Bruins are allowing a league-high 34.1 shots on goal per game. On Thursday, Boston got outshot 55-37 by the Flyers, who won when Scottie Upshall beat Tim Thomas with 9.9 seconds left in overtime.
"Totally ridiculous. Unacceptable," Lewis said. "It's something that drives you nuts as a coach, knowing the situation, the standings and who we're playing."
Mark Mowers ended a personal 27-game goal-scoring drought with two goals for the Bruins. Defenseman Zdeno Chara added a tally to complete Boston's scoring.
Chara also scored a goal the last time these teams met, a 4-2 home win on Dec. 23. The Northeast Division rivals have split the first four meetings of their eight-game season series.
The Canadiens are looking to avoid their fourth straight defeat away from home as they play the third of a season-high five-game road trip. Tomas Plekanec had two goals and an assist to lead Montreal on Friday, but the Canadiens could not recover after allowing scores to Buffalo's Dmitri Kalinin and Michael Ryan 20 seconds apart in the game's opening 1:40.
"We needed a good start, but 2 minutes into the game we're down by two goals," Plekanec said. "You can't win a game like that, especially here."
David Aebischer allowed both early scores and finished with just 22 saves. Aebischer, who is sharing goaltending duties with rookie Jaroslav Halak after starter Cristobal Huet was lost for the season due to a hamstring injury, has a 4.77 goals-against average in his last five games.