Canadiens-Bruins Preview

The Associated Press

The Boston Bruins are among the best home teams in the NHL, but their most recent defeat there came against the Montreal Canadiens.

Another one will give the Northeast Division lead back to their biggest rivals.

The Bruins look to grab a sixth straight home victory and gain sole possession of first place in the division when the Canadiens visit the TD Garden on Wednesday night.

Boston (21-7-3) and Montreal (20-7-5) are tied atop the Northeast heading into the final month of the regular season, and the Bruins have their 11-2-1 home record to thank.

They're playing 10 of their remaining 17 games at the TD Garden, where they haven't lost since a 4-3 defeat to the Canadiens on March 3.

Boston had outscored Montreal 21-11 while winning four of the previous five regular-season meetings as host.

After dropping three of four on the road while totaling six goals, the Bruins kept their recent home streak going with Monday's 3-2 shootout win over Toronto.

Boston's power play has sputtered, though, going 0 for 10 in the last five games.

"We still need to be better," said center Patrice Bergeron, who had a goal in regulation and in the shootout Monday. "It was a step forward, but still we've got some work to do."

Bergeron leads Boston with 27 points, and he has 30 in 31 career home meetings with the Canadiens - including the playoffs. He had a goal and two assists in the loss earlier this month.

Brad Marchand had a career-high three assists in that matchup with Montreal, but he's only scored one of his team-high 13 goals in the Bruins' last 11 games.

The Canadiens are struggling offensively as they try to avoid matching their season-high three-game slide from Feb. 6-9. They've scored once in two games despite holding a 76-43 advantage in shots on goal.

Montreal outshot Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh 37-25 on Tuesday but lost 1-0.

"You need a break if you want to win some hockey games," coach Michel Therrien said. "Certainly we didn't have any break (Tuesday). Twice (we) hit the crossbar. It's a matter of inches to get out of the building with a win."

Max Pacioretty has come up empty on seven shots in each of the last two games. The left wing, the team leader with 25 points, may be hoping another visit to Boston can get him going. He had one goal, one assist and a plus-3 rating in the first meeting there.

David Desharnais matched his career high by scoring twice in that meeting, but he has one goal in 10 games since and none in the past six.

Montreal's Carey Price is 0-4-1 in his last five starts against the Bruins despite posting a 2.20 goals-against average.

He's only started back-to-back games once in six opportunities this season, though, so perhaps Therrien will turn to Peter Budaj on Wednesday. Budaj, who hasn't played since March 10, stopped 31 of 34 shots to beat Boston earlier this month.

Budaj is 4-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA in his last four starts.

It's unclear if Boston will go with Tuukka Rask or give Anton Khudobin his third start in four games. Khudobin has never faced Montreal, while Rask is 1-6-0 with a 3.18 GAA in his last seven starts in the series.

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