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Canadiens-Flyers Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Montreal Canadiens (29-22-8) at Philadelphia Flyers (33-18-10).

TIME: Monday, 7 p.m. EST.

If the Philadelphia Flyers are to avoid their first five-game losing streak in nearly four years, they'll have to do it against a hot opponent.

The Flyers host the Montreal Canadiens, who have won the first three games of a six-game road trip.

Philadelphia has lost its last four games after a 4-2 defeat to the New York Islanders on Saturday. The Flyers have not dropped five in a row since March 28-April 4, 2002.

"The game is on the line, and we took two poor penalties in the third period," said Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock of Petr Nedved's four-minute penalty for high-sticking and Joni Pitkanen's cross-checking minor. "We competed at a high level, we just got beat."

Mike Knuble scored his 26th goal of the season in the loss, snapping a personal six-game goal scoring drought. Knuble is only four goals shy of his career high of 30, set in 2002-03 with the Boston Bruins.

Philadelphia's 33 losses are its most since losing 39 during the 1993-94 season. While that team did not make the playoffs, the current Flyers are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, four five points behind Buffalo.

The Flyers also need to address a drought against the Canadiens. They have lost three straight games to Montreal for the first time since 2001, getting outscored 13-5 in the process.

The Canadiens scored four unanswered third-period goals in a 6-2 win over the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Montreal has earned at least one point in eight straight games, going 6-0-2 during the stretch.

"We came out strong and ended strong," said Montreal's Richard Zednik, who started the scoring outburst with the game-winner. "You can't ask for much better hockey than that. I thought we really showed a lot of character tonight, by sticking to our guns."

The Canadiens' success has come with backup goaltender Cristobal Huet starting in place of former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner Jose Theodore, who is out for 6-to-8 weeks with a fractured right heel.

Huet has won four of his last five starts, the loss coming Feb. 11 in a shootout against Atlanta. He has a 1.67 goals-against average with one shutout and a .943 save percentage in the last three games.

Huet also made 25 saves in Montreal's 5-0 win over the Flyers on Feb. 5.

The Canadiens hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the East as they try to reach the postseason in back-to-back years since the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons.

Montreal is two points behind Tampa Bay for seventh, and leads ninth-place Atlanta by four points.

STANDINGS: Canadiens - 66 points, 3rd place, 19 PB, Northeast Division. Flyers - 76 points, 2nd place, 4 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canadiens - Michael Ryder, 24 goals; Saku Koivu, 29 assists; Alexei Kovalev and Koivu, 43 points; Steve Begin, 99 PIM. Flyers - Simon Gagne, 37 goals; Peter Forsberg, 49 assists and 64 points; Donald Brashear, 110 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 5): Canadiens - Power play: 18.3 percent (60 for 328), 11th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.4 percent (301 for 370), 19th (tied). Flyers - Power play: 17.8 percent (63 for 355), 18th. Penalty killing: 78.6 percent (276 for 351), 26th.

GOALTENDERS: Canadiens - Huet (9-5-3, 3 SO, 2.26 GAA); Yann Danis (3-2-0, 1, 2.69). Flyers - Antero Niittymaki (18-11-6, 2, 2.99); Robert Esche (15-7-4, 0, 3.12).

SEASON SERIES: Canadiens, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 5; Canadiens, 5-0. At Montreal, Ryder scored his first career hat trick and Kovalev had two assists.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canadiens - 13-15-4 on the road; Flyers - 16-9-6 at home.

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