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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 22nd (All times Eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (38-26-7) at Toronto Maple Leafs (36-27-8), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to halt a three-game slide on Saturday when they host the rival Montreal Canadiens in an important Eastern Conference battle at Air Canada Centre.

The recent 0-3-0 stretch has hurt Toronto's playoff chances, but the club hopes to get back on track in the finale of the regular-season series with the Habs. The showdown is loaded with postseason implications for both teams, but as of Saturday, the Maple Leafs need the win slightly more than the Canadiens.

With 80 points, Toronto is currently occupying the first of the East's two wild card spots, but is only three points behind the Habs for third place in the Atlantic Division. The top three clubs in each division earn automatic bids to the playoffs while the remaining two spots in each conference are up for grabs via wild cards.

Tampa Bay is currently two points ahead of Montreal for second place in the Atlantic. Boston, which became the first team to clinch a playoff berth with a win on Friday, is currently running away with the division crown as it holds a 16-point lead over the Lightning atop the Atlantic.

The Maple Leafs also have to keep an eye on Detroit, which is currently outside of the playoff picture but only three points behind Toronto. The Red Wings, who are tied with Washington in the East standings, also hold two games in hand over Toronto. Detroit visits Minnesota on Saturday.

The Canadiens and Leafs each have two wins in the 2013-14 season series, but Toronto has gained one more point (5) in the matchup thanks to an overtime loss when the clubs met last on March 1 in Montreal. Max Pacioretty notched the game-winner for the Habs in that meeting, scoring on the power play with 1:32 left in OT.

Toronto has won five of the last nine meetings overall and has taken two of the past three at Air Canada Centre. Montreal has four wins over the past six encounters at ACC.

The Maple Leafs were the victims of a Steven Stamkos hat trick in their most recent loss, a 5-3 home setback in Wednesday's game against the Lightning. It was the second loss in three home games for Toronto, which had won seven straight at ACC heading into the month of March.

Stamkos netted a natural hat trick, while both Ryan Malone and Valtteri Filppula added two assists to down Toronto, which fell to 22-12-1 as the host this season.

"You can definitely tell they had more jump that we did," offered Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle.

Jake Gardiner, Phil Kessel and Nikolai Kulemin lit the lamp for the Maple Leafs. Tyler Bozak also picked up two assists, but James Reimer allowed all five goals on 30 shots in defeat.

It's unclear if Reimer will get a fourth straight start on Saturday, or if No. 1 netminder Jonathan Bernier can return from a strained groin. Bernier was injured on March 13 in Los Angeles, but the Quebec native practiced in full gear on Friday and could get the start this evening.

However, the 25-year-old Bernier has not fared well in five career games against Montreal, going 1-3-1 with a 3.40 goals against average and .895 save percentage. Reimer is 5-3-0 with a 2.73 GAA and .919 save percentage in nine career games versus the Habs. In light of those numbers, Carlyle could opt to rest Bernier for another day on Saturday and save him for Sunday's road battle with New Jersey.

Leafs centerman Dave Bolland could also return to action Saturday for the first time since severing a tendon in his ankle on Nov. 2. Bolland, who was acquired in a trade with Chicago over the summer, had six goals and four assists in 15 games before the injury. On Friday, Carlyle said Bolland is day- to-day and a game-time decision for this evening's battle.

While Toronto could be getting some pieces back on Saturday, the Canadiens learned on Friday that forward Brandon Prust will miss the rest of the regular season due to an upper-body injury. Prust has six goals and seven assists in 52 games this season and also played a key role on Montreal's checking line.

The Canadiens played their first game without Prust in Thursday's 3-2 home loss against Columbus. Ryan Johansen scored the deciding goal with 3:01 remaining as the Blue Jackets snapped Montreal's three-game winning streak with a regulation win.

"Tonight was a bad night for our team," Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien said. "We played a poor game."

Montreal lost despite getting a 37-save performance from Carey Price, with Brendan Gallagher and Thomas Vanek each potting goals in defeat.

Vanek has four goals over his last two games after failing to hit the net in his first five outings with Montreal. The 30-year-old sniper was acquired at the trade deadline from the New York Islanders and has recorded 22 goals and 26 assists over 49 career games against the Leafs.

Price will get the start in net for Montreal on Saturday. He is 12-13-1 with a 2.72 GAA and .914 save percentage in 26 career games versus Toronto.

Beginning with Saturday's test, the Canadiens are playing two straight and five of their next six games away from Montreal. The Habs are 18-14-2 as the guest this season.

03/22 10:43:24 ET

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The Carolina Hurricanes traded defenseman Tim Gleason Saturday to Washington for defenseman Jack Hillen and a fourth-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Ron Francis, the team's executive vice president and general manager said.

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UCF 66
ECU 71
Final
BC 79
NCSU 63
Final
MIAMI 64
UNC 73
Final
NCCU 72
COOK 49
 
2nd
NYI 1
CAR 3
 
7:00pm Tonight
DUKE
SYR
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
DET
7:30pm Tonight
MIA
ATL
7:30pm Tonight
NYK
TOR
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
MEM
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
BRK
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
MIL
9:00pm Tonight
PHO
SAN
Final
LIP 94
KNST 75
 
Final
GHND 47
NAVY 57
 
Final
LAF 74
ARMY 64
 
Final
AMER 69
BUCK 71
 
Final
UCF 66
ECU 71
Final
STJ 81
GEOR 70
Final
CLEM 70
GT 63
Final
COL 61
LEH 55
 
Final
FSU 59
LOU 81
Final
MD 66
MICH 56
Final
UGA 68
MIZZ 44
Final
BC 79
NCSU 63
Final
LAS 56
RIU 59
Final
UNH 65
MAINE 56
 
Final
IUPUI 80
NEOM 87
 
Final
WINT 80
PBY 53
 
Final
VMI 69
SAMF 80
 
Final
CITA 54
WCU 67
 
Final
DEP 53
BUT 67
Final
LONG 70
CAMP 65
 
Final
TULA 47
CIN 63
Final
VCU 55
DAY 59
Final
TOWS 60
DEL 65
 
Final
WMARY 66
DREX 80
 
Final
JVU 75
FLGC 67
 
Final
EVAN 67
ILLST 69
 
Final
BRAD 52
INDST 60
 
Final
MIAMI 64
UNC 73
Final
WICHS 74
NIOWA 60
Final
UWGB 83
OU 63
 
Final
LSU 73
MISS 63
Final
OKLA 67
TCU 60
Final
BING 76
UMBC 69
 
Final
AFA 60
UTST 74
Final
GTDNS 79
VERM 73
 
Final
XAV 66
VILL 78
Final
MNTER 74
WAGN 64
 
Final
ILLCH 61
WRST 46
 
Final
YALE 90
SARAHLAW 55
 
Final
UAB 100
MTST 95
 
Final
NDAK 65
SUTAH 71
 
Final
LIB 77
UNCA 95
 
Final
CHIST 65
WLVRN 44
 
Final
UMO 57
BGU 62
 
Final
SHU 84
LIU 73
 
Final
APP 66
LAMON 43
 
Final
VANDY 73
ALA 66
 
Final
KENT 84
ARK 67
 
Final
NCCU 72
COOK 49
 
2nd
MRGST 54
COPST 65
 
Final
SHU 67
CREI 66
 
Final
BONA 92
DUQ 75
 
Final
MERC 69
ETST 64
 
Final
UMASS 82
FORD 74
 
Final
RAD 72
GWEBB 62
 
Final
JMU 82
HOF 73
 
Final
BU 70
HC 77
 
Final
KYST 70
ISU 69
 
Final
DELST 65
MDES 69
 
Final
LOYC 65
MIZST 51
 
Final
IDAHO 80
MNTST 73
 
Final
MCNST 83
NICST 78
 
Final
TTU 63
OKST 62
 
Final
PORT 66
SDU 78
 
Final
BRY 61
Terriers 51
 
Final
RMU 71
RFLSH 70
 
Final
UVA 69
VT 57
 
Final
BAY 78
WVU 66
 
Final
FUR 60
WOFF 62
 
Final
SILL 63
DRAK 57
 
Final
FD 73
CCST 66
 
2nd
WMICH 70
EMICH 62
 
2nd
CSOU 61
HIGH 59
 
2nd
UNCG 38
CHAT 29
 
2nd
SD 53
SDKST 41
 
1st
CARK 31
SELA 33
 
2nd
KU 38
TEX 42
 
2nd
EWASH 52
MONT 51
 
Half
TROY 25
UGST 39
 
Half
TXST 34
ARKST 23
 
1st
UNT 33
ODU 27
 
1st
CORN 12
DART 10
 
6:00pm Tonight
NCAT
FAM
 
1st
PSU 20
IOWA 11
 
1st
MORE 17
JVST 14
 
1st
PEPP 15
LMU 17
 
1st
SCAR 16
MSST 11
 
1st
BRO 12
PRIN 18
 
1st
NEV 7
SJST 15
 
6:00pm Tonight
SCST
SAV
 
1st
BEL 15
TENST 8
 
1st
UF 17
TENN 8
 
6:00pm Tonight
ALAST
TXSOU
 
6:30pm Tonight
SOUTH
ALCOR
 
6:30pm Tonight
JST
MVSU
 
7:00pm Tonight
SEMIZ
PEAY
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOL
BST
 
7:00pm Tonight
KSU
BUF
 
7:00pm Tonight
LBSU
CSFU
 
7:00pm Tonight
MARS
FATL
7:00pm Tonight
STLU
GMAS
7:00pm Tonight
DAVID
GWU
7:00pm Tonight
HOW
HAMP
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLMB
HARV
 
7:00pm Tonight
LAM
INCWORD
 
7:00pm Tonight
YOUNG
UWMIL
 
7:00pm Tonight
TENNM
MURST
 
7:00pm Tonight
ELON
UNCW
 
7:00pm Tonight
ILL
NW
7:00pm Tonight
YALE
PENN
 
7:00pm Tonight
ALAAM
PVU
 
7:00pm Tonight
STJOE
RICH
7:00pm Tonight
UNF
STET
 
7:00pm Tonight
HART
USB
 
7:00pm Tonight
DUKE
SYR
7:00pm Tonight
EKENT
TENT
 
7:00pm Tonight
LATU
TXSA
7:00pm Tonight
NKENTUCKY
USCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
MAST
WILL
 
7:05pm Tonight
UMKC
GRCN
 
7:15pm Tonight
NO
ABCHRIST
 
8:00pm Tonight
SDST
BSU
8:00pm Tonight
NILL
CMICH
 
8:00pm Tonight
RICE
CHAR
8:00pm Tonight
ORU
DEN
 
8:00pm Tonight
WKENT
FIU
8:00pm Tonight
TXPA
NMST
 
8:00pm Tonight
COC
NE
 
8:00pm Tonight
TAMCC
SHSU
 
8:00pm Tonight
SCU
GAELS
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOUB
STEPH
 
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SMISS
UTEP
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MEM
TULSA
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UNLV
WYO
8:15pm Tonight
TXARL
ARKLR
 
8:15pm Tonight
LALAF
GSOUT
 
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TEXAM
AUB
8:30pm Tonight
ARKPB
GRAM
 
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UTAH
ARZ
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NCOL
NARZ
 
10:00pm Tonight
GONZ
BYU
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WEBER
IDST
 
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FRES
NMU
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USF
PAC
 
10:00pm Tonight
CPSL 0
UCD 0
 
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PORST
SACST
 
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SEAT
CALST
 
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CSNO
UCR
 
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USC
WASH
11:59pm Tonight
UCSB
UCI
 
Final
FLA 5
BUF 3
 
Final
NAS 3
DET 4
2nd
NYI 1
CAR 3
 
2nd
CLB 0
NJD 1
 
1st Intermission
BOS 2
ARI 0
 
7:00pm Tonight
MON
TOR
8:00pm Tonight
PHI
NYR
10:00pm Tonight
COL
MIN
10:00pm Tonight
SJS
OTT
10:00pm Tonight
EDM
STL