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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Tuesday, January 13th (All times eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (25-10-6) at Boston Bruins (31-7-4), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The streaking Montreal Canadiens will try to move closer to the top spot in the Northeast Division when they visit the rival Boston Bruins for tonight's battle at TD Banknorth Garden.

The Bruins leads the Northeast, as well as the Eastern Conference, with 66 points on the year and Montreal is 10 points in back of Boston for first place in the division.

Boston has taken two of the three meetings with the Canadiens this year. Two of those meetings have gone to the shootout with each club winning one of those contests. Montreal has taken 13 of the last 17 encounters between the teams and has also come out on top in eight of its previous 11 stops in Beantown.

Montreal has been on a hot streak of late, winning four straight and going 9-1-1 in its last 11 outings. Another win tonight would match the Habs longest winning streak of the season, a five-gamer set from October 11-20.

The Canadiens have owed their current winning streak to an offensive surge, as the team has recorded 23 goals over the last four games. Montreal earned its most recent win this past Saturday against visiting Washington, shooting past the Capitals by a 5-4 score.

Sergei Kostitsyn netted the game-winner with 21.2 seconds left, atoning for a penalty just minutes earlier that allowed Washington to tie the contest, and Montreal used a four-goal third period to get past the Caps at the Bell Centre.

Sergei Kostitsyn and brother Andrei had a goal and an assist each while Tomas Plekanec scored twice.

Jaroslav Halak picked up the win with 31 saves as he started his fifth straight game in place of the injured Carey Price. Halak, who is 4-1-0 over the stretch, will likely be getting the nod again tonight as Price is not ready to return from a groin injury.

Montreal is 11-6-2 as the visiting team this year and has won four of its last five road tests. The Habs will host Nashville on Thursday before heading out on a five-game road trip.

Meanwhile, Boston is completing a six-game homestand tonight and is 3-2-0 so far on the residency. The Bruins, who will visit the New York Islanders on Thursday, are 16-3-1 as the host this season.

The Bruins have won two in a row directly on the heels of back-to-back losses. When Boston was handed consecutive setbacks by Buffalo and Minnesota last week, it was the first time the team had lost two in a row since dropping three straight from October 20-23.

Boston bounced back with Thursday's 6-4 decision over Ottawa and followed that up with Saturday's blowout victory against Carolina. Michael Ryder scored twice as the Bruins downed the Hurricanes, 5-1, at the Garden.

David Krejci had a goal and two assists while Mark Stuart added a goal and an assist for the Bruins.

Tim Thomas stopped 29 shots and improved to 17-4-3 on the season. Thomas hasn't been successful for the most part in his career against the Habs, going 5-12-2 in 20 outings.

The Bruins will be without forward Phil Kessel, who was placed on injured reserve Monday with a bout of mononucleosis. Kessel had played in all 42 of Boston's games this season, posting a team-best 24 goals with 17 assists.

01/13 10:46:01 ET

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