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Monday, February 23rd (All times eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (29-25-6-2) at New York Rangers (22-28-7-4), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens, currently protecting eighth place in the Eastern Conference, try to escape their current funk tonight when they visit the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

With 66 points, the Habs are three ahead of the Buffalo Sabres for the final playoff spot in the East, and trail the seventh-place Islanders by just two. The Rangers, who haven't qualified for the postseason since 1997, sit 12th in the standings -- 11 behind Montreal.

The Canadiens have lost five of their last six games heading into this evening, including Saturday's 5-4 setback in Toronto. Montreal valiantly came back from a 4-0 deficit, but ultimately fell short. The Leafs' Mats Sundin scored a late third-period goal that proved to be the game-winner.

Pierre Dagenais, Steve Begin, Michael Ryder and Francis Bouillon scored for the Canadiens, who have dropped four straight on the road. Mathieu Garon, Montreal's starting goaltender, left the game after stopping just eight shots. Jose Theodore finished with 12 saves in relief.

Montreal will host East-leading Ottawa on Tuesday.

New York, meanwhile, has lost five of its last seven games, including Saturday's 7-3 beating at the hands of the visiting Devils. Scott Gomez tied a career high with five points to lead New Jersey.

Martin Rucinsky, Bobby Holik, and Jaromir Jagr netted goals at the other end as the Rangers returned to their losing ways after a spirited 6-2 win over the Islanders on Thursday. New York, which has lost four of its last five contests, received just 12 saves on 17 shots from Mike Dunham, before Jussi Markkanen came in to replace him.

Special teams continue to doom the Blueshirts, as they have allowed at least one power-play goal in five straight games, and nine of their last 10.

New York, who have dropped four of their last five at MSG, will visit the Isles on Thursday.

The Rangers and Habs are 1-1-1 against each other this season, but Montreal holds a 5-1-1 advantage in the last seven meetings overall.

02/23 10:37:25 ET


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