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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Saturday, March 8th (All times eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (37-22-9) at Los Angeles Kings (27-27-5), 4 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Northeast Division-leading Montreal Canadiens will aim for their fifth victory in six games today, when they visit the lowly Los Angeles Kings for a matinee at the Staples Center.

The Canadiens have 83 points on the year and are two ahead of Ottawa for the top spot in the Northeast. Montreal is also a point behind New Jersey for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Devils are playing in Toronto tonight, while the Senators are visiting Phoenix.

Montreal is 1-1 so far on a four-game West Coast swing, as it lost to San Jose on Monday before posting a win Thursday at Phoenix. The Canadiens have an impressive 21-10-4 road record this year and will complete this current trek with stops in Los Angeles and Anaheim.

In Thursday's game, Andrei Markov broke a deadlock midway through the third period, and the Canadiens went on to beat the Coyotes, 4-2, at Arena.

Phoenix has lost six games and tied three others against the Canadiens since a 4-2 victory over the Habs on December 9, 1998. This was the first meeting between the teams since Phoenix lost 5-2 at Montreal on December. 13, 2005.

Tomas Plekanec, Saku Koivu and Sergei Kostitsyn all tallied for Montreal, which has won eight of its last 11 contests.

Alex Kovalev added three assists, Chris Higgins had a pair of helpers and Carey Price stopped 37-of-39 shots for the Canadiens.

The Kings, meanwhile, are last in the Western Conference and NHL with 59 points on the season.

However, LA is coming off a victory as it defeated visiting Ottawa on Thursday to snap a five-game losing streak. Erik Ersberg stopped 40 shots -- posting his first career win, and a shutout in just his third career start -- as the Kings beat the Senators, 2-0, at Staples Center.

Alex Frolov and Patrick O'Sullivan tallied for the Kings, who have won just twice in their last nine games.

LA had just one point on a recently completed four-game road trip, but continued its domination at home against the Senators. Ottawa's lone win at Los Angeles came January 11, 2000, in a 4-3 victory.

In injury news, the Kings learned Wednesday that starting goaltender Jason LaBarbera, sidelined since February 18, will miss the rest of the season after undergoing sports hernia surgery. Veteran Dan Cloutier and the Swedish rookie Ersberg will continue to share netminding duties.

The Kings are 15-17-2 as the host team and are playing the middle test of a three-game homestand today. LA, which will end its residency Monday against Vancouver, has won six of its last nine at home.

Tonight's game is the first meeting between the Habs and Kings since December 3, 2005. Montreal has won two straight, four of five and eight of the last 11 tests in the series. The Canadiens have also taken three of their last five games in the City of Angels.

03/08 10:33:07 ET

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