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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Tuesday, March 31st (All times eastern)

Chicago Blackhawks (40-23-11) at Montreal Canadiens (38-27-10), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens will try to end a five-game homestand on a positive note as they continue their push for the playoffs tonight by hosting the Chicago Blackhawks in an interconference matchup at Bell Centre.

With 86 points, the Canadiens are occupying the eighth and final postseason berth in the Eastern Conference. Montreal is just one point ahead of ninth- seeded Florida and three in back of the New York Rangers for the seventh slot.

Montreal is 2-1-1 so far on its residency, but is coming off Saturday's close loss to Buffalo. Toni Lydman scored the only goal of the shootout, as the Sabres edged the Habs, 4-3.

Alex Kovalev scored twice for Montreal, and Christopher Higgins added the other goal. Alex Tanguay had two assists to extend his point streak to five games.

Carey Price stopped 34 shots for the Canadiens, who are 3-3-3 since general manager Bob Gainey fired Guy Carbonneau and took over head coaching duties.

Montreal is 23-8-7 as the host this year, but has just two wins in its last seven home games. After tonight, the Canadiens will play two straight and four of their next five on the road.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, come into today locked in a battle with Vancouver for the fourth seed in the West. Both teams are tied with 91 points on the year, but Chicago has a game in hand over the Canucks, who are playing at Minnesota tonight.

However, Chicago had won three straight before losing decisively to the visiting Canucks on Sunday. Daniel Sedin registered two goals and an assist, and Roberto Luongo made 26 saves to lift Vancouver to the 4-0 triumph at United Center.

Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 19-of-23 shots for the Blackhawks.

Next up for Chicago, which is 19-14-4 as the road club this year, is a two- game homestand beginning with Wednesday's battle against St. Louis.

The Canadiens won the only meeting with Chicago last season, beating the Blackhawks in an overtime decision at the Bell Centre. All told, Montreal has won four of five and six of the last eight encounters with the Blackhawks.

Chicago has lost three in a row, four of five and 10 of its last 13 tests in Montreal.

03/31 10:58:10 ET

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