Win puts Habs in; Leafs need win to stay alive

It's been a struggle recently for the Montreal Canadiens, but they can push all the bad feelings away with 60 minutes of good hockey Tuesday.

If the Canadiens can beat the Chicago Blackhawks tonight, they'll clinch a playoff spot for the fourth straight season.

Montreal has won just five of its last 12 games (5-7-0), and is looking to win consecutive games for the first time since its five-game win streak ended March 8.

However, the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks will be a desperate squad. Entering the night eighth in the Western Conference, they're just a point ahead of ninth-place Calgary and three ahead of 10th-place Dallas.

A few hours west in Toronto, the Maple Leafs are hoping to keep their flickering hopes for a playoff spot alive with a victory against the Washington Capitals.

To remain alive in the playoff hunt, the Leafs need to beat the Caps and hope the Buffalo Sabres lose to the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight. The Leafs haven't been to the postseason since the 2003-04 season.

Washington, though, is focused on clinching the Southeast Division and possibly moving back into the top spot in the Eastern Conference. A Caps win or a Lightning loss would give Washington its fourth straight division title. The Caps can lose in overtime or a shootout and still win the division if the Lightning loses in regulation.

Also, if the Caps win and Philadelphia loses to Ottawa, Washington would move back into the top spot in the conference. The teams enter the day tied with 103 points; Philadelphia holds the tiebreaker with one more regulation/overtime win, 43-42.