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GAME: New Jersey Devils (40-27-9) at Montreal Canadiens (40-27-9).
TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EDT.
In a crucial Eastern Conference showdown, the Montreal Canadiens seek their ninth consecutive win when they host a New Jersey Devils team looking for its sixth straight victory.
Montreal and New Jersey are tied for sixth in the conference with six games remaining, while eighth-place Tampa Bay is just two points back of both clubs.
The Canadiens extended their winning streak to eight - their longest since a similar run from Oct. 24-Nov. 11, 1992, and four behind the franchise record of 12 set in 1967-68 - with a 5-3 victory over Ottawa on Thursday.
Mike Ribeiro had a goal and two assists, and Christopher Higgins and Saku Koivu each had a goal and an assist to back goaltender David Aebischer's 44 saves.
Aebischer, acquired in a trade that sent Jose Theodore to Colorado on March 8, broke a streak of allowing five goals in each of his last three starts.
"When you come in and you don't play the way you should it's frustrating, especially after a trade," Aebischer said.
Higgins, second on the team with 21 goals in his rookie season, has eight tallies in his last eight games.
New Jersey has outscored its opponents 19-10 during its win streak, including a 6-4 win over Pittsburgh in the back end of a home-and-home series on Wednesday.
Patrik Elias had three goals and two assists, and Scott Gomez contributed a goal and three assists as the Devils reached 40 wins for the ninth straight season.
"Patty took over right from the get-go," Gomez said. "We need that. That's his job. He's a goal-scorer. He's had tons of chances in recent games. When he got that first one, you could tell he was on a roll."
Brian Gionta had an assist to extend his point streak to nine games. In those contests, the Devils' leading scorer has six goals and six assists.
Following this game, the Canadiens host Ottawa, play at Buffalo and Boston, and then return home to meet the Sabres and Devils. New Jersey's remaining schedule is also tough with matchups against the New York Rangers, Carolina and back-to-back home games with Philadelphia before visiting Montreal in the finale.
STANDINGS: Devils - 89 points, 3rd place, 9 PB, Atlantic Division. Canadiens - 89 points, 3rd place, 19 PB, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Devils - Gionta, 42 goals and 76 points; Gomez, 45 assists; Cam Janssen, 91 PIM. Canadiens - Michael Ryder, 29 goals; Koivu, 42 assists; Alexei Kovalev and Koivu, 59 points; Todd Simpson, 125 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Devils - Power play: 17.5 percent (72 for 411), 18th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.7 percent (268 for 328), 18th. Canadiens - Power play: 19.8 percent (86 for 435), 5th. Penalty killing: 80.7 percent (369 for 457), 23rd.
GOALTENDERS: Devils - Martin Brodeur (37-23-7, 5 SO, 2.62 GAA); Scott Clemmensen (3-4-2, 3.35). Canadiens - Cristobal Huet (18-8-4, 7, 2.09); Aebischer (27-16-2, 3, 3.12).
SEASON SERIES: Devils, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 5; Devils, 5-4. At East Rutherford, N.J., Elias had two goals and two assists in just his second game back since recovering from Hepatitis A. Higgins had a goal and an assist for Montreal.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devils - 16-16-6 on the road; Canadiens - 23-10-4 at home.
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