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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, December 28th (All times eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (20-14-2) at Washington Capitals (21-12-5), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Washington Capitals will try to stay on the right track when they host the struggling Montreal Canadiens in a playoff rematch tonight at the Verizon Center.

The Capitals lost eight in a row from Dec. 2-18, but Bruce Boudreau's club has regrouped to post a 3-0-1 mark over its last four outings. Washington, which has won the last three Southeast Division titles, has 47 points on the year and is currently tied with Tampa Bay for first place in the division. The Lightning are also in action tonight at home against Boston.

Meanwhile, the Canadiens have lost three of four and six of their last eight games. Montreal is currently tied with Boston for the Northeast Division lead with 42 points.

Montreal and the Capitals split four regular-season meetings last year before the Habs eliminated top-seeded Washington from the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in seven games last spring. The Canadiens trailed the series three games to one before winning the final three games of the best-of-seven set, including a 2-1 win in the decisive Game 7 at Verizon Center.

The Caps have still dominated the recent regular-season series against Montreal, taking six of nine overall and four of the last five encounters in D.C.

Washington lost a shootout decision to visiting Pittsburgh on Thursday before emerging from the Christmas break with Sunday's close win at Carolina. Alex Ovechkin scored for the first time in nine games and the Capitals earned the 3-2 regulation victory at RBC Center.

Ovechkin added an assist to give him 41 points (13 goals, 28 assists) this season. The Russian superstar has 11 goals and 24 points in 20 career games against the Canadiens.

Mathieu Perreault and David Steckel also scored in Sunday's win and Semyon Varlamov made 33 saves to improve to 5-4-1 on the season.

"They had some chances at the end, but we hung with it and we had some good blocks tonight," Steckel said.

Washington has lost six of its last seven home games, but still has a solid 13-4-4 record as the host this season. After tonight, the Caps will be off until visiting Pittsburgh's Heinz Field on Saturday for the Winter Classic against the rival Penguins.

Caps defenseman Tom Poti missed the last game with a head injury and is questionable for tonight.

The Canadiens also played on Sunday night and were dealt a 4-1 loss by the host New York Islanders. Dwayne Roloson stopped 38-of-39 shots to lead the Islanders to victory at Nassau Coliseum.

Tomas Plekanec notched the lone goal while Carey Price surrendered four goals on 25 shots for the Canadiens.

The Canadiens are 1-3-0 so far on their season-high, seven-game road trip. Montreal, which will complete the trek with tests against Tampa Bay and Florida, is just 8-9-0 on the road this season.

Montreal forward Travis Moen missed Sunday's game with flu-like symptoms and is questionable for tonight's tilt.

12/28 11:09:09 ET


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