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Northeast lead at stake when Habs visit Boston

by Eric Goodman
CANADIENS (30-19-5) at BRUINS (30-16-7)

TV --

Last 10 -- Canadiens 6-2-2; Bruins 6-4-0

Season series -- This is the fourth game between these Original Six clubs. The Canadiens claimed victory in the previous three meetings this season and have won four straight in Boston, dating to a road series sweep at TD Garden in 2009-10. Montreal is 8-1-0 against Boston in its last nine games in the all-time series.

Big story -- The Habs have been climbing the standings in the Eastern Conference recently and can pull even in points with the Northeast-leading Bruins if they can manage a regulation win Wednesday. The Bruins will play their first game since learning Monday that center Marc Savard will be sidelined for the remainder of the season, marking the second straight time the forward has seen his season cut short because of a concussion.

Team Scope:

Canadiens --
Winners of three of its last four games, Montreal is poised to make a run at first place in the Northeast Division for the first time since it won the division and the Eastern Conference with 104 points during the 2007-08 season.

If the Habs hope to finish at the top of the division this season, they will need to continue their recent dominance of the division-leading Bruins. They also will need to turn in a better performance Wednesday than they did in a 4-1 loss against the New Jersey Devils this past Sunday.

"It was just one of those games where the puck just didn't bounce our way in the first five minutes, but that's hockey," Habs defenseman P.K. Subban said following the defeat.

Bruins -- Boston is in the exact same position as Wednesday's opponent, as it has won three of its last four but also is looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss. Although the Bruins held the Sharks to a season-low 18 shots this past Saturday, San Jose still managed a 2-0 victory at TD Garden.

One of the main reasons the Sharks were able to stay so close was because Boston went 0-for-4 on the power play, including failing to register a shot on its final chance with the man-advantage, midway through the third period.

"If there's an area that they were better than us it was in the battle. They won more battles than we did and that's where I thought the game was decided," Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters after the game.

Who's hot -- Subban has a three-game point-scoring streak for the Habs. He has 1 goal and 3 assists in that span. ... Goalie Tim Thomas had won three of four for Boston before Saturday's loss to the Sharks, but the All-Star goalie was very solid in that game, turning aside 16 of 17 shots.

Injury report -- Canadiens defenseman James Wisniewski missed his second straight game Sunday due to illness, but is expected back in the lineup on Wednesday. Forward Michael Cammalleri (shoulder) is still out, and defensemen Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges are sidelined for the season with knee injuries. ... Besides the news on Savard (concussion), Boston will continue to be without forward Daniel Paille who will serve the second of his four-game suspension for a hit to the head against Dallas last Thursday.

Stat pack -- The Canadiens have outscored the Bruins 27-13 in their eight wins against the Bruins during the past two seasons.

Puck drop -- When addressing reporter John Bishop on Monday, Savard maintained that he does not want to think about retiring from hockey just yet.

"Well, I've obviously tried to stay away from that right now," said Savard. "It's tough enough as it is not to finish the season. I'm going to get some more medical stuff done, some tests, and then I'll be able to make a clearer decision on what my future is."
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