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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Wednesday, January 7th (All times eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (22-10-6) at New York Rangers (24-14-3), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A pair of Original Six franchises will clash tonight in the Big Apple, as the New York Rangers welcome the Montreal Canadiens for a meeting at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers have won two of their last three tests on the heels of a three- game losing streak. The Blueshirts dropped out of first place in the Atlantic Division briefly, but are now tied with Philadelphia for the top spot with 51 points apiece.

Henrik Lundqvist notched his first shutout of the season in Monday's home victory over Pittsburgh. He made 27 saves in leading the Rangers to a 4-0 decision over the visiting Penguins.

Lundqvist recorded his first shutout of the season in his 34th game of the year after leading the NHL with 10 shutouts in 2007-08.

Paul Mara, Scott Gomez, Nigel Dawes and Chris Drury each had a goal and an assist for the Rangers, who had lost four of five coming into the game.

New York is now halfway done its season and has posted a record of 24-14-3.

The Rangers have won three of their last five home games and are 14-7-2 as the host this year. After tonight's contest, the Blueshirts will kick off a five- game road trip, beginning with Friday's tilt in Buffalo.

The Canadiens, meanwhile, have won four of their last five games and are coming off Sunday's wild win over visiting Florida. Andrei Markov tallied the lone shootout goal as the Habs notched a 6-5 decision at the Bell Centre.

The Panthers led 2-0 after one period only to watch the Canadiens score four unanswered tallies in the second stanza. Florida scored three more times in the third period and sent the game to overtime on Radek Dvorak's tally with 1:38 left in regulation.

However, Markov made the Habs winners after a scoreless OT session to give the Canadiens the extra point. After the first five shooters were all stopped, the newly-named All-Star starter Markov slipped a backhand shot through the legs of Florida's Craig Anderson.

The win came one day after the Canadiens found out that they will have four starters in the All-Star Game to be played in Montreal, January 25. In addition to Markov, forward Alex Kovalev, defenseman Mike Komisarek and goalie Carey Price received starting nods

Andrei Kostitsyn scored twice, while Francis Bouillon, Tom Kostopoulos and Robert Lang also tallied for the Canadiens. Lang also recorded an assist, while Jaroslav Halak made 30 saves in the win.

The Canadiens had won three straight on the road before losing at New Jersey last Friday. Montreal is 10-6-2 as the visiting club this year and will play its next two games on home ice, beginning with Thursday's test against Toronto.

Montreal earned a 6-2 home victory over the Rangers on December 4 in the first of four meetings between the clubs this year. The Habs have taken the last two encounters, but New York has still won six of nine in the series overall. The Canadiens have dropped four straight at the Garden.

01/07 10:38:22 ET

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