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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Saturday, March 21st (All times eastern)

Toronto Maple Leafs (29-30-13) at Montreal Canadiens (36-26-9), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Though likely not destined for a postseason spot themselves, Toronto would love for nothing more than to add to rival Montreal's current miseries.

The Maple Leafs will try to damage the Canadiens' playoff chances tonight, when the Northeast Division rivals square off at the Bell Centre for the final time this season.

One of the more intense rivalries in the NHL, the Maple Leafs and Canadiens have split their eight-game season series in each of the past three seasons. Scheduling changes this offseason shortened the series to six games this year, but in typical Montreal-Toronto fashion, the clubs have split four meetings so far in 2008-09.

However, the Maple Leafs' 5-2 win at the Bell Centre on February 7 was just their third win in their last nine trips there. These club wraps wrap their season series in Toronto on April 4.

First, the Leafs will attempt to deal the Habs' a season-high fifth straight loss. Montreal has lost four in a row three times this year and is just 9-15-3 in its last 27 games. That has dropped the Canadiens into the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Ninth-seeded Florida is just a point back with 80 points, while the New York Rangers are one point ahead in the seventh spot.

Toronto, meanwhile, is 11th overall in the East and 10 points back of a postseason spot with 10 games to play.

Montreal saw its skid extended on Thursday with a 5-4 loss to Ottawa. Guillaume Latendresse scored twice and Tom Kostopoulos registered a goal and two assists for the slumping Canadiens, whose losing streak includes three straight setbacks at home.

The Habs haven't lost five straight overall since a six-game slide from February 6-17, 2007.

Carey Price was benched early in the second period after yielding four goals on 15 shots and Jaroslav Halak made 23 saves the rest of the way. Price has lost nine of his last 12 starts and has allowed at least three goals in 10 of those outings.

Halak, meanwhile, has lost back-to-back decisions since winning four starts in a row.

Montreal begins a five-game homestand tonight and is 21-7-6 as the host this year.

Toronto wraps a three-game road trip tonight and had won three of its last four prior to Thursday's 3-1 loss to Florida. Mikhail Grabovski scored the lone goal while Martin Gerber made 39 saves in the loss.

The Maple Leafs have still won five of their last seven on the road and are 16-17-4 as the guest this season.

03/21 10:37:43 ET

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