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Brandon Prust returns, other top storylines vs. Montreal tonight

Chris Neil #25 of the Ottawa Senators and

Chris Neil #25 of the Ottawa Senators and Brandon Prust #8 of the New York Rangers fight. (April 23, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

1. Brandon Prust, who scored his second goal of the season Monday in a 3-0 defeat of Carolina in Montreal, returns to the Garden Tuesday night for the first time after fleeing for a $10-million, four-year contract. Still wearing No. 8. Rangers will be without their No. 8, Darroll Powe, out with a concussion. Coach John Tortorella will decide whether Chris Kreider or Brandon Mashinter dresses as 12th forward. Kreider has more speed and skills, which could be useful; Mash has muscle and will drop the mitts, although Arron Asham can square off against Prust, the NHL’s leader in penalties, if necessary.

2. For the Canadiens (10-4-1), who have won four straight, Carey Price (8-3-0, 2.06, .922) is expected to be in goal after missing two games with the flu. Besides Prust and Price, my players to watch: Defenseman P.K. Subban, always entertaining, and Canadiens rookie Alex Galchenyuk, the No. 3 pick in the 2012 draft.

3. Henrik Lundqvist, very sharp in last five starts, is back in form. In his last two matchups vs. Price at MSG, Rangers won 5-3 and 4-1.

4. Carl Hagelin has a four-game goal streak, playing on a line with Rick Nash and Derek Stepan, the team’s top trio. Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahan have been the second line. Brian Boyle centering J.T. Miller and Taylor Pyatt, the third. My players to watch: Stepan and Michael Del Zotto.

5. Rangers had 40 shots against Caps Sunday; will need similar barrage against Price, and a power-play goal or two. Montreal PK ranked 11th; Rangers 9th. Blueshirts PP is in the basement; Montreal is 14th.

6. Tuesday night marks fourth back-to-back for Canadiens. They lost 5-1 to Sens on road on 1/30; beat Ottawa 2-1 at home on 2/3; lost 5-4 to Buffalo on road on 2/7.

7. For NYR, this begins three straight against Canadian teams. Rangers will visit Ottawa Thursday and Montreal Saturday.

New York Sports