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Habs look to keep strong play going vs. Rangers

by Dave Lozo /
RANGERS (29-21-4) at CANADIENS (29-18-5)


Last 10 -- New York 4-5-1; Montreal 6-2-2

Season series -- This is the third of four meetings. The Canadiens are 2-0-0 following 2-1 and 3-2 victories Jan. 11 in New York and Jan. 15 in Montreal, respectively.

Big story -- The Rangers have gone three straight games without a win for the first time since the fourth game of the season. They're getting healthy, but it may take time for all the new bodies to get adjusted. Meanwhile, the Canadiens are on fire of late and are 5-1-2 in their last eight at the Bell Centre.

Team Scope:

Rangers --
After finding success all season despite battling injuries, the returns of Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan and Vinny Prospal the past two games hasn't translated into victories.

The Rangers head to Montreal after losing 3-2 at home to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday. Henrik Lundqvist was yanked after allowing three goals on 12 shots and hasn't looked sharp coming out of the All-Star break.

"Obviously we are not going to win the hockey game if I don't play better," Lundqvist said. "I know that I have to be better."

Canadiens -- With an 8-2-2 mark in their last 12 games, the Canadiens are playing some of their best hockey of the season. They climbed out of a 1-0 first-period deficit to pick up a 3-2 home win against the Florida Panthers on Wednesday.

"We knew it was going to be tough, you know, back-to-back games after five days off," said Tomas Plekanec, who scored in the victory. "It's not easy. You've got to stay focused and be patient and have that hunger in every battle.

"I thought we missed that a little bit through those first two periods, but we stayed patient and came out strong in the third."

Who's hot -- Rangers rookie Mats Zuccarello has 5 assists in his last 3 games. … Canadiens forward Brian Gionta has 3 goals in his last two games.

Injury report -- The Rangers will be without forwards Ruslan Fedotenko (shoulder/appendix) and Erik Christensen (knee), although the latter is close to returning. … Forward Michael Cammalleri (shoulder) is traveling with the Canadiens but isn't expected back.

Stat pack -- The Rangers have power-play goals in three straight games. … Montreal's power play is 0-for-19 in its past three games.

Puck drop -- "It felt great. It's been a long time and I'm very fortunate to come back and play again. There were times when I thought, 'Who knows how it's going to turn out?' but I always wanted to come back." -- Vinny Prospal, who made his season debut Thursday after offseason surgery on his right knee.
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