The Montreal Canadiens hope to aid their push for home ice in the first round of the playoffs when they host the New York Islanders in Thursdays game at the Bell Centre. Duke Keats Jersey . Viewers in the Habs region can watch the game on TSN starting at 7:30pm et/8:30pm at and listen to it on TSN Radio 690. Montreal will face Tampa Bay in the first round of the playoffs and currently holds a three-point lead over the Lightning for second place in the Atlantic Division and home-ice advantage in the best-of-seven series. However, Tampa Bay has three games left in the regular season compared to two for the Canadiens. The Habs are closing their regular-season slate with two straight on home ice and will host the New York Rangers in their 82nd game on Saturday. Montreal is 22-12-5 as the home team this season. The Canadiens lost for just the second time in nine outings on Wednesday, but they still picked up a point in a 3-2 overtime loss at Chicago. Peter Budaj misplayed a harmless Patrick Sharp shot into the game winner at 43 seconds of OT, giving the Blackhawks a come-from-behind victory at United Center. Marian Hossa tied the game inside the final minute with the extra attacker, then Sharp won it when his contested, rolling shot from between the circles trickled up Budajs stick. Instead of trapping it, the Habs netminder tried to shake it away, and instead whacked it into the net for Chicagos winning goal. "We were in a position to get two points, but I really liked the way we played," Montreal head coach Michel Therrien said. "On the last two goals, it was some bad coverage in front of the net. Im sure on the last goal, the winning goal, (Budaj) certainly would like to see that shot again, but those things happen." Dale Weise and Francis Bouillon scored for the Canadiens, while Budaj took the loss despite 25 stops. The Islanders are out of the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons after making an appearance last spring. The club has lost three straight and has been outscored by a combined 8-1 margin over the last two games. After losing 4-0 in Columbus on Sunday, New York was dealt a 4-1 setback by the visiting Ottawa Senators in Tuesdays season finale at Nassau Coliseum. Jason Spezza scored twice, including the go-ahead goal in the third period to lift the Senators to the win and drop New Yorks record this season on Long Island to 13-19-9. "We had some problems here at home," said Islanders coach Jack Capuano. "Thats something we have to straighten out if we want to make the playoffs." Next season marks New Yorks last campaign at the Coliseum, as the club is scheduled to move to Brooklyns Barclays Center at the start of 2015-16. Frans Nielsen scored for the Islanders, while Anders Nilsson made 28 saves in a losing effort. New York will play three games on the road to complete its schedule and is 18-18-2 as the visiting team. After tonights tilt at the Bell Centre, the Isles will visit New Jersey on Friday before ending the campaign Sunday in Buffalo. Montreal has won three straight against the Islanders overall, but New York has claimed three of the past five meetings in Quebec. Boston Bruins at Winnipeg Jets The Boston Bruins will try to move closer to just the second Presidents Trophy in franchise history on Thursday night as they take on the Winnipeg Jets. Viewers in the Jets region can watch the game on TSN starting at 6:30pm ct/7:30pm et and listen to it on TSN Radio 1290 in Winnipeg. The Bruins lead the NHL with 114 points, two ahead of the idle Anaheim Ducks with a game in hand. Boston has already locked up the top seed in the Eastern Conference and has not finished a season as the top points earner since 1989-90, when it lost to the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals. With nothing to play for down the stretch, the Bruins have lost three of their last four games, but they are 1-1-2 in that stretch and have earned a point in 19 of their previous 20 games (16-1-3). Boston is coming off Tuesdays 4-3 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild, yielding the game-tying goal with 1:05 left in regulation before getting shut out in the tiebreaker. Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith and Patrice Bergeron lit the lamp for the Bruins, while Tuukka Rask made 21 saves. "I felt we were a little sloppy tonight. We werent very sharp in our passing and our playmaking," Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. Both forward Jarome Iginla and defenseman Kevan Miller missed a second straight game, while David Krejci, who leads the NHL with a plus-39 rating, was scratched from the game for rest. Both Iginla and Miller practiced on Wednesday and could be game-time decisions. The Bruins will host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday before ending the regular season at the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. Rask figures to get some rest over that time, but could start tonight and is 8-4-0 lifetime versus the Jets with a 1.98 goals against average and two shutouts. Winnipeg comes in having lost four of its last six games and will miss the playoffs for a seventh straight season. The Jets are also banged up as both Andrew Ladd (undisclosed) and Dustin Byfuglien (upper body) will miss the clubs final two games of the regular season, while goaltender Al Montoya and defensemen Zach Bogosian and Keaton Ellerby are questionable due to injury. Though Winnipeg lost a 1-0 decision to Minnesota on Monday, it marked a solid NHL debut for Michael Hutchinson as he posted 16 saves. The 24-year-old Hutchinson, a third-round pick by Boston in 2008, began the season in the ECHL before putting up solid numbers with the St. Johns IceCaps of the AHL. "Everyone hopes to play a game in the NHL every season but realistically I didnt think itd be possible," admitted Hutchinson. "Im very fortunate to have been in some good situations and I was able to play well this year and I was just happy to get a shot." Winnipeg ends its regular season on Friday at the Calgary Flames and Hutchinson may get another start tonight. The Jets have lost three of four and six of their last nine versus the Bruins, including a 4-1 setback in Boston on Jan. 4. Torey Krug scored twice and had an assist for Boston, while Rask posted 36 saves. Byfuglien had the lone Winnipeg goal and Ondrej Pavelec made 25 saves in defeat. The Bruins have lost five of their last six road meetings with the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise. Cheap Bruins Jerseys . Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes, the bandleader of the beard brigade during Bostons run to the 2013 World Series title, said he will be shaving his off before spring training so that he can file it "in the archive" with his memories of the teams improbable championship. Hal Winkler Jersey . Six years of waiting are finally over for the Dallas defenceman. Daley had a goal and an assist, Kari Lehtonen recorded his fifth shutout of the season, and the Stars clinched their first playoff berth since 2008 with a 3-0 victory against the St.Over the winter, we wrote about the Blue Jays coming to terms with a pair of pitchers who were trying to become knuckleballers. They were Josh Banks and Tomo Ohka. Banks had been a Blue Jays draft pick who had a brief stint with the club in 2007 before moving on to San Diego and then Houston, compiling a career record of 4-8. The other was Ohka, a journeyman from Japan who spent time with six organizations, including the Blue Jays in 2007, where he went 2-5. Ohka, who turns 38 next week, was already sent to the minor league camp last week. Now there is a third. Hes 30-year-old Frank Viola III. If the name is familiar, it should be. Hes the son of former big league star lefty, Frank Viola Jr. Frank Jr. had a very good career, predominantly with the Twins and the Mets. He was the MVP of the 1987 World Series - the Twins first win ever - and won the Cy Young Award in the American League the following season - his final full season with the Twins with a 24-7 season. Frank "Sweet Music" Viola, as he was affectionately known, is a member of the Twins Hall of Fame. Viola actually finished off his major league career in a short stop over with the Blue Jays in 1996. He went 1-3 for the Jays and ended his career on May 28 of that year. His son chased that major league dream as well and pitched in the White Sox organization thtough 2007 before injuries appeared to cut his career short. He dabbled in the media doing Florida State League games and even had his own fishing show, but Viola III never gave up his dream of pitching in the majors. The next step was trying to master the knuckleball. He worked with the likes of R,A Dickey, Tim Wakefield and Hall of Famer Phil Niekro and finally impressed the Blue Jays enough that they signed him last week. This doesnt necessarily mean the 30-year-old will make it to the big club. The Jays game plan is to have a knuckleballer or two in the minors to work with their catching prospects. That way, if they get called up to the Jays theyll be ready to work with Dickey without any major adjustment. Still, it would be great to see one of these knuckleballers eventually make it to the majors. Frank Viola Jr. incidentally is entering his second season as the pitching coach with the Mets Triple A farm club, the Las Vegas 51s. After writing about the passing of Dr. Frank Jobe, the man who pioneered Tommy John surgery last week, I discovered another interesting twist to the Tommy John story. Jake DeBrusk Jersey. Back in 1968, in a game at old Tiger Stadium, John was pitching against Detroit. In the first inning he hit Dick McAuliffe with a pitch. He later scored on an RBI single by Al Kaline. When McAuliffe came up again in the third, threw one pitch high and tight and then a 3-2 pitch behind McAuliffes head that sent him sprawling in the dirt. When he got up he dusted himself off and started to head to first glancing out towards John. McAuliffe claims that John taunted him by saying "What the F are you looking at?" That was the final straw for McAuliffe and he charged the mound. John got into a defensive position and the knee of the charging McAuliffe dug into Johns left shoulder. He suffered a separated shoulder and torn shoulder ligaments and missed the rest of the season. McAuliffe was suspended for five games and was fined $250.00. The interesting thing about John is that he resisted the advice to have surgery and let the shoulder heal with rest and rehab. The plan worked, though it took a while for John to get back to peak efficiency. 1974 was different. When Tommy John blew out his elbow, he said his arm simply felt dead. This time he agreed to surgery, which not only changed his career but revolutionized baseball in terms of treating this type of elbow injury. The Detroit Tigers have made history over the last three years, winning five of the six major awards handed out. They have won three straight MVP awards - the last two by Miguel Cabrerra and three straight Cy Young awards. The Tigers have made the postseason in each of the last three years. The only other time the organization did that was in the hay day of Ty Cobb in 1907, 1908 and 1909 when they dropped three straight World Series - two to the Cubs and one to the Pirates. This season under rookie manager Brad Ausmus, they will be trying to make the playoffs for the fourth straight time and for the first time in franchise history. Over the weekend, Tigers GM Dave Dumbrowski denied rumours he was listening to offers for starting pitcher Rick Porcello. In fact, he denied trying to trade any of his starters. But considering the Tigers have question marks at 3rd base and left field, you have to wonder a bit. Its still a bit too early to get too excited or too worried about this but Baltimore is 8-2 so far this spring and is scoring nearly eight runs-again, even without a rehabbing Manny Machado (knee) at full strength. ' ' '
home ice in the first round of th
home ice in the first round of th