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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, March 27th (All times Eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (41-26-7) at Detroit Red Wings (33-25-14), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The surging Montreal Canadiens will take aim at their seventh win in eight tries when they begin a four-game road trip with Thursday's clash against the Detroit Red Wings.

The Canadiens have won three straight and six of their past seven games, pushing them two points ahead of Tampa Bay for second place in the Atlantic Division. However, the Lightning, who host the New York Islanders on Thursday, do hold two games in hand over the Habs.

Detroit, meanwhile, enters Thursday as one of four teams tied for the last two playoff berths in the Eastern Conference.

With 80 points, the Red Wings are seven in back of Tampa Bay for last of the Atlantic Division's three automatic playoff berths, meaning they'll likely need to claim one of the East's two wild cards to qualify for a 23rd straight postseason.

Columbus, Detroit, Toronto and Washington each have 80 points, but the Red Wings are the only team of that group in action on Thursday. The Blue Jackets and Red Wings have 10 games remaining in their regular-season schedules, while the Capitals and Maple Leafs have nine and eight games left, respectively.

Detroit, which will try to halt a two-game slide on Thursday, hasn't missed the playoffs since 1990.

The Red Wings had a three-game winning streak snapped with Sunday's overtime loss against visiting Minnesota and then fell 4-2 in an important road clash with Columbus on Tuesday.

Cam Atkinson scored the winning goal for the Blue Jackets in the third period of Tuesday's game, but the decisive tally did not come without controversy.

Columbus grabbed a 3-2 lead at 6:58 of the third period. The team skated the other way on a 2-on-1 and Matt Calvert let fly with a shot from the right wing that Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard stopped before Atkinson knocked in the rebound. However, the net was dislodged by Atkinson before the puck crossed the line, but Brendan Smith had pushed Atkinson into the net and the refs ruled it a good goal.

"They knocked the net off and they still score," a frustrated Howard said. "I guess it's something to remember in the back of our minds, you knock the net off it, just throw (the puck) in there. It should count."

Ryan Johansen sealed the win for Columbus with an empty-net goal in the closing seconds.

Gustav Nyquist had both goals for the Red Wings, while Howard made 24 stops on 27 shots.

Beginning with Thursday's test, Detroit is playing four of its next five games on home ice. The Red Wings are only 15-11-10 as the host this season, but the club had won four straight in the Motor City before losing Sunday's game against the Wild.

Montreal picked up its third straight win in Tuesday's home meeting against the lowly Buffalo Sabres. Max Pacioretty broke a scoreless deadlock with 9:07 to play and Carey Price posted a 24-save shutout to lift the Canadiens to the 2-0 win over the basement-dwelling Sabres.

Danny Briere added an insurance marker with Montreal on the power play at 16:54 of the third, while Price stood tall down the stretch to help kill off a late Canadiens penalty and secure his fifth shutout of the season and 24th of his career.

"The goal is to make the playoffs," Briere remarked. "We're in control of our destiny and trying to rack up as many points as we can."

The Canadiens won despite playing without forwards Travis Moen and Dale Weise, who were injured on the same shift in Monday's 2-1 shootout win in Boston. Both players are questionable for Thursday's game.

Detroit is 2-0 against the Habs so far in 2013-14 and the clubs will meet once more in the regular season when Montreal hosts the Red Wings on April 5. The Red Wings have won four of five and six of eight overall in the series and have come out on top in the last two encounters at Joe Louis Arena.

Montreal is opening a four-game road trip on Thursday and boasts a solid 20-14-2 record as the visiting club this season.

03/27 11:02:28 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14
 
8th
SFG 11
KAN 4
 
Final
WISC 52
MD 7
Final
SMU 10
MEM 48
Final
ILL 28
MINN 24
Final
RICE 41
UNT 21
Final
NEB 42
RUTG 24
Final
KST 23
TEX 0
Final
ARK 45
UAB 17
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
EMICH 17
NILL 28
Final
NAVY 41
SJST 31
Final
BST 35
AKR 21
Final
GASTATE 31
GASO 69
Final
TOL 42
UMASS 35
Final
WMICH 42
OHIO 21
Final
COL 37
UCLA 40
Final
UMO 10
KSU 3
Final
WAKE 17
BC 23
Final
BUF 14
CMICH 20
Final
MARS 35
FATL 16
Final
PITT 28
GT 56
Final
SMISS 20
LATU 31
Final
MSU 35
MICH 11
Final
KENT 31
MSST 45
Final
STAN 38
ORST 14
Final
TCU 82
TTU 27
Final
OKST 10
WVU 34
Final
WKENT 66
ODU 51
Final
UTST 34
UNLV 20
Final
MIZZ 24
VANDY 14
Final
UCF 34
TEMPL 14
Final
WASU 37
ARZ 59
 
Final
CLEM 16
SYR 6
Final
LAMON 18
TXST 22
 
Final
TXSANANTO 0
UTEP 34
Final
COLST 45
WYO 31
 
Final
LSU 10
MISS 7
Final
TENN 20
ALA 34
 
Final
AUB 42
SCAR 35
1st OT
PSU 23
OSU 17
 
Half
UTAH 10
USC 14
 
2nd
WASH 0
ARST 0
 
11:59pm Tonight
HAW
NEV
Final
SJS 1
BUF 2
Final
TOR 1
BOS 4
Final
NYI 7
DAL 5
Final
PHI 4
DET 2
Final
OTT 2
NJD 3
Final
MON 3
NYR 1
Final
STL 3
CHI 2
Final
NAS 0
PIT 3
Final
MIN 7
TAM 2
Final
ARI 2
FLA 1
 
2nd Intermission
CAL 1
WAS 2
 
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14