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Aebischer to face Raycroft as Leafs, Canadiens battle for playoff position

Both clubs are just out of playoff position in the NHL's Eastern Conference.

Aebischer has been the back-up the last four games as recent call-up Jaroslav Halak went 3-1 in goal. The 21-year-old Halak suffered his first NHL loss Saturday afternoon, a 3-2 defeat by the Islanders in New York.

"David was a top goaltender at the start of the season and we'll need him in top form if we're going to be successful at the end of the season," coach Guy Carbonneau said.

The Canadiens may also have right winger Alex Kovalev and defenceman Craig Rivet back. Carbonneau said a decision on Kovalev would be made Monday morning.

Kovalev has missed seven games with a sore left elbow and Rivet has been out nine games with pneumonia. Both skated at an optional practice on Sunday.

Centre Steve Begin has been out three games with a broken right foot but may be ready to play Tuesday night against the Rangers in New York.

The Leafs also had an optional skate at the Bell Centre a day after their 5-2 win Saturday night in Philadelphia.

Coach Paul Maurice said he has not decided whether recent call-up Jeremy Williams will play.

He lauded the play in Philadelphia of Andy Wosniewski after his return from an injury suffered only three games into the season against Montreal.

"He played exceptionally well and skated well," said Maurice.

Boyd Devereaux (wrist) and Pavel Kubina (broken finger) skated but are not ready to return.

Raycroft has started 23 consecutive games.

The Canadiens returned forward Duncan Milroy to Hamilton of the American Hockey League. He had one assist in five NHL games.



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