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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Wednesday, March 31st (All times eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (40-28-7-4) at New York Islanders (36-29-10-4), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The New York Islanders try to wrap up the final playoff berth in the East tonight when they welcome the Montreal Canadiens to Nassau Coliseum.

With 86 points, the eighth-place Isles are three ahead of the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference standings with three games to play. New York will clinch the final spot with a win and a Sabres loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden this evening.

The Isles have, however, been slumping, losing their last two games to Carolina and New Jersey. On Sunday, New York dropped a 3-2 decision to the host Devils, as Patrik Elias recorded a goal and two assists to lead the victors.

Dave Scatchard and Mark Parrish scored for the Islanders, while Kenny Jonsson assisted on both tallies. New York had won four straight games before its current lull.

Rick DiPietro made 25 saves in a losing effort.

Slumping center Alexei Yashin had his role significantly reduced on Sunday night, as he logged just 9:56 of ice time. Yashin has just one goal and three assists in 11 games since returning from a wrist injury.

The Isles will visit Carolina on Friday before closing out the season Sunday against Philadelphia at Nassau Coliseum.

Montreal, meanwhile, is already in the postseason field, sitting seventh in the East with 91 points. The Habs have lost three straight games, including Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss in Boston. Sergei Samsonov, who also tied the game with a goal early in the third period, scored the game-winner in the final minute of overtime for the Bruins.

Jose Theodore stopped 36-of-39 shots in a losing effort for Montreal, which earned a point for the regulation tie and clinched a playoff spot.

Jason Ward scored on a penalty shot for Montreal and Stephane Quintal added the other goal.

Montreal will host Philadelphia on Thursday before welcoming Buffalo on Saturday in the regular season finale.

The Canadiens are 2-1 against the Islanders this season, but the home club is 10-1-1 in the last 12 meetings.

03/31 10:13:10 ET

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