The Montreal Canadiens have been the leaders in the Atlantic Division since the start of the season. For a time in February and even earlier this month they appeared ready to yield that lead to the Ottawa Senators. Heading into Saturday's play, the Sens remain just six points behind Montreal in the standings with three games at hand. However, the Canadiens also seem to have found their form again as they look to extend an active winning streak when they face the New York Rangers on Saturday night.

Montreal have won four straight

When Claude Julien took over in Montreal, following the firing of Michel Therrien, the effects were not immediate.

However, starting last Saturday night, when Montreal defeated Toronto in overtime, the Canadiens have been playing better in the pressure moments. They would also win in overtime against the New Jersey Devils and Columbus. Then on Thursday the Habs defeated the Nashville Predators with some last-second heroics. That the Canadiens have allowed some of their recent opponents to get a point in the standings doesn't really hurt them as the team that they have to be most worried about is Ottawa, not Toronto, New Jersey, or Columbus.

The standings remain tight in the Atlantic Division despite the four wins mainly because Ottawa do have three games at hand. That's enough to offset a six-point deficit and there is no breathing room for the Habs right now.

Furthermore, Montreal's Saturday-night game is one that looks more challenging than many that they've had in recent outings.

New York at MSG should be tough

Toronto and New Jersey were the weak teams in the active winning streak while Columbus and Nashville were the strong ones. However, the latter were teams that Montreal hosted.

The Rangers are a dangerous team and Montreal will have to beat them on their home ice, where New York have gone 19-13 in regulation this season. The Habs aren't bad on the road at 16-12 in regulation so there's definitely hopes for them to pick up another valuable two points and stay hot on top of the division.

The team that they'll be watching on the scoreboard is Ottawa for the most part. Boston remain in the thick of things as well thanks to a 7-3-0 stretch in their last ten games. Toronto and Florida need matters to go their way fast, and consistently, if they are going to get back into contention for the Atlantic Division's outright lead. The Sens host Columbus on Saturday, meaning that Ottawa have a tough game to win as well.

Game time tonight for Montreal is at 7pm ET from New York. That's the early game for Hockey Night in Canada on March 4th on the CBC.

Don't miss our page on Facebook!