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Canadiens look to capture another from Bruins

by Brian Hunter
CANADIENS (40-27-7) at BRUINS (40-22-10)


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

Season series: Sixth and final meeting of the season between these Northeast Division rivals. The Canadiens have won four of five, including the most recent matchup, 4-1 on March 8 in Montreal. Their captain, Brian Gionta, leads all scorers with 5 goals in as many games, with a pair of game-winners. Milan Lucic has 4 goals to pace the Bruins.

Big story:
That last game at the Bell Centre featured a pair of first-period goals by Canadiens rookie Lars Eller that were later overshadowed by the hit along the boards by Bruins captain Zdeno Chara on Max Pacioretty that resulted in a concussion and a broken vertebra for the Montreal forward when his head struck the corner of the glass that separates the two benches. Chara received a five-minute interference major and game misconduct but wasn't suspended. It's possible Pacioretty could return to action during the playoffs.

Team Scope:

Canadiens: Despite its success against Boston this season, Montreal is still three points out in the Northeast Division with only eight games remaining, two fewer than the Bruins. The Habs were hoping they might be in first place when this game rolled around -- or, at worst, a point out with a chance to take over the division lead with a win -- but the events of Tuesday night didn't work in their favor. Ryan Miller stopped all 31 shots he faced and outdueled Carey Price as the Sabres handed the Canadiens a 2-0 loss on home ice.

"When you play at this time of the year against a team fighting for a playoff spot, there's an element of desperation," coach Jacques Martin said. "On our side, after a decent first period, we weren't able to go to the net with authority or create chances in front of Miller. I think we made the night easy for him."

Bruins: Meanwhile, in Boston, the Bruins were putting an end to a two-game losing streak and further damaging the fading playoff hopes of the Devils with a 4-1 victory at TD Garden. After getting badly outshot to start the game and falling behind by a goal, they tied the score on a goal by Shawn Thornton and took control in the second period, getting the go-ahead, power-play tally from Chara. Lucic reached the 30-goal plateau in the third and Mark Recchi added an empty-netter.

"We knew the guys felt the pressure of not winning lately," coach Claude Julien said. "It could have easily been a situation where everybody starts to panic, everybody starts to yell and it doesn't get any better, but we stayed with it as a group and we found a solution."

Who's hot: P.K. Subban became the first rookie defenseman to record a hat trick for the Canadiens in their rout of the Wild on Sunday, and he has 4 goals in his past three games. … Chara added a pair of assists for the Bruins to go with his power-play Tuesday, giving him a three-point night.

Injury report:
In addition to Pacioretty, forward Mathieu Darche (groin) and defenseman Jaroslav Spacek (knee) are on injured reserve for Montreal. Defenseman Brent Sopel (hand) and forwards Jeff Halpern (lower body) and Tomas Plekanec (lower body) are day-to-day. … Boston defenseman Shane Hnidy (shoulder) is on injured reserve.

Stat pack: The Canadiens have outshot their opponent in 44 games this season, compiling a 24-15-5 record. … Lucic became the Bruins' first 30-goal scorer since Phil Kessel had 36 during the 2008-09 season.

Puck drop: The last two games between these teams have been highly contentious. There was bad blood long before Chara's hit on Pacioretty, as Boston and Montreal combined for 14 goals and 187 penalty minutes in the meeting before that, Feb. 9 at TD Garden. It's the only game in the season series won by the Bruins, 8-6, and featured a fight between Price and his counterpart, Tim Thomas.

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