Canadiens vs. Bruins preview: Rivalry intensifies in battle for the East

Elsa

The Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins meet not only as rivals but as two teams fighting for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

The rivalry between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins reaches a new level on Wednesday night as the two teams battle for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, as NBC Sports Network showcases another great rivalry matchup. The two teams have met in the postseason three times since 2008 but it has been a long time since the two teams fought for regular season supremacy in the East.

The Bruins (6-1-1) have truly faltered just once this season, blowing a 3-1 lead while allowing the Buffalo Sabres to score four times in the third period in a 7-4 loss on Jan. 31. Boston responded with a 1-0 shutdown of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, allowing just 21 shots on goal in another tight game.

Boston has excelled on defense and the penalty kill (94.1 percent) while shining in the faceoff circle to overcome a poor power play that has scored just scored just three times in 30 attempts with the man advantage. Tuukka Rask has appeared in all but one game for the Bruins thus far and is expected to be back in net on Wednesday.

The Canadiens (6-2-0) have overcome the absence of top defenseman P.K. Subban and come into the game as a top-five scoring team with 3.25 goals per game, scoring at nearly 24 percent on the man advantage while taking advantage of a home-heavy schedule. Wednesday's game will mark seven out of nine games at the Bell Centre to open the season, with the Habs 5-1-0 at home so far this year.

Andrei Markov continues to shock the hockey world and leads the Canadiens in scoring with four goals and four assists on the year. Subban has two assists in two games since returning with a shiny new contract, while Max Pacioretty notched an assist in his first game back after an emergency appendectomy.

The Bruins were 4-2-0 against the Habs last season, with all but one game decided by just one goal.

Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. ET with live national coverage on NBCSN, with RDS and TSN picking covering the game for Canadian viewers.

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