The New York Rangers will make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season if they win their final three games.
But the way they've struggled lately, the Rangers can't afford to look ahead at a potential playoff berth. They're just going to worry about their next game.
Tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, New York looks to continue its recent dominance at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night when it hosts a Montreal Canadiens club that also hopes to move closer to a postseason berth.
The Rangers (40-30-9) open the final week of the regular season with four losses in their last five games, but even with a playoff berth still within their grasp, John Tortorella's club knows it can only concentrate on Tuesday night's opponent.
"It's not rocket science here - it's not three games, it's one game," said Tortorella, 9-7-2 since replacing the fired Tom Renney. "Everybody knows where we're at, what the situation is, we don't have to talk about that anymore. It's about finding a way to win one hockey game."
If New York and Florida both win out, the Rangers would secure the final playoff spot based on more victories. Montreal is seventh in the East, three points ahead of both the Rangers and Panthers.
After falling to top-seeded Boston 1-0 on Saturday in what could be the Rangers' first-round matchup, New York returns to MSG for its last two home games before the regular-season finale at Philadelphia on Sunday.
The Rangers are 6-1-0 on home ice since a 2-1 loss to the Panthers on Feb. 26.
"When the Garden is loud and it's rocking, it can really pump up the team, but it also works the other way for us," New York captain Chris Drury told the team's official Web site Monday. "For the opponent, it makes it a really tough place to play."
It had been a tough place for the Canadiens before they snapped a four-game slide there on Jan. 7 with a 6-3 victory.
Robert Lang recorded a hat trick and Roman Hamrlik had three assists as Montreal won its first game visiting the Rangers since a 4-1 victory on Oct. 31, 2005.
Lang is out indefinitely with a torn left Achilles' tendon suffered in a 3-1 loss to the Bruins on Feb. 1.
Lately, the injury front doesn't look much better as leading scorer Andrei Markov (knee) and fellow defenseman Mathieu Schneider (shoulder) were hurt in Saturday's 6-2 win over Toronto - the Canadiens' fifth victory in six games. Neither will play Tuesday, according to Montreal coach Bob Gainey.
The Canadiens (41-28-10), who had won three straight, could have moved past idle Pittsburgh for the sixth seed in the East, but couldn't hold on to a 2-1 third-period lead, falling 3-2 to Ottawa on Monday.
"We had the game in our control and we let it slip away but there are three games left," Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges said.
Alex Kovalev looks to extend his point streak to eight on Tuesday after scoring his 25th of the season Monday. Kovalev has two goals and an assist this season against the Rangers, who have won two of the three matchups.
Jaroslav Halak made 20 saves in Monday's loss. He stopped 39 shots in the Jan. 7 win.
Carey Price is 1-0-1 with a 2.41 GAA against the Rangers this season.
New York's Henrik Lundqvist, meanwhile, is 4-2-0 with a 2.17 GAA in six career home starts against Montreal.