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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Thursday, March 22nd (All times eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (37-31-6) at Boston Bruins (34-33-5), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens have improved their play recently and hope to continue that trend tonight, when they visit the Boston Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden for the finale of a home-and-home series.

Earlier this month, the Canadiens were mired in a four-game losing streak, but the club has won four of its last five contests since then.

However, the Habs are still fighting for their playoff lives and come into tonight's action tied with Toronto and Carolina for the eighth and final postseason spot in the East. The Hurricanes will also be in action tonight, as they host the Washington Capitals.

The opener of this home-and-home set was on Tuesday evening at Montreal's Bell Centre, where the Canadiens skated away with a close triumph. Guillaume Latendresse scored the lone goal of the contest and Jaroslav Halak notched his first career shutout as the Canadiens edged the Bruins, 1-0.

Halak stopped 30 shots, including 14 in a busy third period for Montreal, which has won back-to-back games.

Tim Thomas finished with 31 saves for Boston, which has lost five of its last seven.

The Bruins were once in the heat of the playoff race, but have now fallen into 13th place in the East with 73 points. They are just seven points behind the trio holding the final postseason berth in the conference, but would have to also get past Florida and the New York Islanders before breaking into the top eight spots.

This evening's contest is the first of two straight at home for the Bruins, who are 18-15-3 as the host this year but have dropped four of their last six in Beantown. However, Montreal is just 15-19-3 as the away club and has been defeated in six of its last seven road tests.

The season series between these two Original Six franchises is tied at three wins apiece, but the Canadiens have take eight of its last 11 matchups with Boston.

03/22 10:47:42 ET

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