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Tuesday, April 7th (All times eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (41-28-10) at New York Rangers (40-30-9), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens will try to bounce back from a loss when they visit the New York Rangers for a key battle in the Eastern Conference playoff race tonight at Madison Square Garden.

The Canadiens had won three straight and five of six before being dealt a regulation setback Monday against visiting Ottawa.

Montreal is currently the seventh seed in the East with 92 points, while the Rangers are three points back in a tie with Florida for the conference's eighth and final postseason berth. All three teams have three games left in the regular season and the Panthers are also playing in Philadelphia tonight.

The Canadiens received some unwelcome injury news Monday as Andrei Markov is expected to miss the next three weeks and fellow defenseman Mathieu Schneider is reportedly done for the season, according to a television report by RDS. Both players are dealing with upper-body injuries.

Markov is Montreal's leading scorer with 64 points, having notched 12 goals with a team-best 52 assists while appearing in all 78 games thus far. Schneider, acquired from Atlanta on February 16, has four goals and 12 assists for 16 points in 21 games with Montreal.

Without Markov and Schneider, the Habs were dealt a 3-2 loss by the Senators on Monday. Dany Heatley scored twice in a span of 38 seconds in the third period to help Ottawa edge Montreal at the Bell Centre.

Alex Kovalev and Roman Hamrlik each had a goal for the Canadiens, while Jaroslav Halak made 20 saves in the loss. Halak has started the last three game while Carey Price has been sidelined by the flu. However, Price was available as a backup in Monday's game and is expected to get the start tonight.

Kovalev extended his point streak to seven games and has eight goals and eight assists over that span. Saku Koivu, who had an assist in Monday's loss, also has a point in seven straight, notching three goals and seven assists over his run.

Montreal, which is just 17-19-3 as the guest, is playing the first of two straight on the road to close out its away schedule for the regular season. After visiting Boston on Thursday, the Habs will host Pittsburgh on Saturday in the finale for both clubs.

The Rangers have lost two straight and four of their last five games and are coming off Saturday's defeat in Boston. Tim Thomas made 31 saves for his fifth shutout of the season, as the Bruins clinched the top spot in the Eastern Conference with a 1-0 win over New York.

Lundqvist stopped 23-of-24 shots for the Rangers, who have also dropped five of seven. New York is trying to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

The Rangers are playing the first of two straight on home ice tonight and will then close out their regular season Sunday in Philadelphia. The Blueshirts are 24-11-4 as the host this year and have won six of their last seven at the Garden.

Montreal has taken two of three from the Rangers this year, but New York has taken five of the last eight encounters between the clubs. The Canadiens had lost four in a row at the Garden before beating the Blueshirts, 6-3, on January 7.

04/07 10:55:41 ET


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