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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Tuesday, February 24th (All times eastern)

Vancouver Canucks (30-21-8) at Montreal Canadiens (31-22-7), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens got themselves back on track with a much-needed home victory their last time out, but the reeling club figures to face a tougher test when the red-hot Vancouver Canucks enter the Bell Centre this evening.

Vancouver is riding a four-game winning streak following Saturday's emotional shootout triumph in Toronto and is an outstanding 8-1-0 so far during the month of February. The surge, which came after a season-long eight-game slide, has propelled the Canucks into fifth place in the Western Conference standings with 68 points.

The Canucks have dominated this series as well in recent years. Vancouver has not lost in 11 straight meetings with Montreal, amassing 10 wins and a tie over that span, and handed the Habs a 4-2 defeat when the teams faced off in British Columbia earlier this month.

Vancouver also comes in off an uplifting 3-2 comeback win over the Maple Leafs in Mats Sundin's return to Toronto. After the Canucks' Alex Burrows sent the contest into overtime with under four minutes remaining in regulation, Sundin sealed his former team's fate by recording the game-winning goal in the third round of the shootout.

Sundin had spent the previous 13 seasons with Toronto before joining the Canucks in December and finished his tenure as the Maple Leafs' all-time leader with 420 goals and 987 points.

Roberto Luongo stopped 36-of-38 shots to help Vancouver to its fifth triumph in its last six road tilts. The Canucks have won each of the first three matchups of a current four-game road trip that concludes tonight.

Montreal had lost seven times in a seven-game span before downing rival Ottawa Saturday at the Bell Centre. Alex Kovalev led the way in the 5-3 win with a goal and two assists in his return from a team-mandated two-game absence.

Kovalev had been sent home early from the Canadiens' recent road trip last Tuesday by general manager Bob Gainey, who criticized the veteran forward for a lack of energy and emotion. The Russian standout, who turns 36 today, had gone 10 straight games without a goal before lighting the lamp on Saturday.

Montreal also received an inspired performance from goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who recorded 44 saves to help his team end a three-game skid.

Saturday's decision gave the Canadiens wins in seven of their last nine home outings, and the team is a strong 18-6-4 as the host this season.

Montreal presently stands tied with the New York Rangers for fifth place in the East with 69 points.

02/24 10:59:33 ET

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