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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Monday, February 26th (All times eastern)

Toronto Maple Leafs (30-23-9) at Montreal Canadiens (32-26-6), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - One of the best rivalries in sports resumes this evening, as the Montreal Canadiens open the doors of the Bell Centre for a battle with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This series between two of the Original Six franchises is always heated, but should be aided for the rest of the year by a close Eastern Conference playoff race. Montreal has 70 points and is tied with the New York Islanders for the eighth and final postseason berth in the East, while the Maple Leafs are just one point behind in ninth place.

The Canadiens were in action against the Isles on Saturday and had a three- game win streak halted. New York earned the 3-2 home victory as Frans Nielsen had a goal and an assist for his first NHL points.

Sheldon Souray and Chris Higgins each scored for the Canadiens, who have dropped seven of their last 10 games. Saku Koivu had two assists and Jaroslav Halak made 28 saves for Montreal.

The Canadiens, who are 18-12-3 as the host club this year, will begin a five- game road trip Tuesday against the New York Rangers.

Toronto, meanwhile, is coming into tonight's test on a winning note after disposing of the Flyers in Philadelphia on Saturday. Jeff O'Neill and Alex Steen both had a goal and an assist, as the Leafs rolled to the 5-2 triumph at the Wachovia Center.

Chad Kilger, Mats Sundin and John Pohl also scored for the Maple Leafs, who had dropped two straight and five of their last seven games (2-2-3) entering Saturday's test.

Bryan McCabe notched three assists for Toronto, which is wrapping up a three- game road trip tonight. The Maple Leafs are a solid 18-10-4 as the visitor this season.

Sundin has 387 goals as a Maple Leaf and is now just two away from tying Hall- of-Famer Darryl Sittler for the franchise record.

Toronto has the upper hand in the series with the Habs this year, winning three of the five matchups so far. However, these clubs have split the last 14 encounters.

02/26 11:06:11 ET

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