Canadiens-Maple Leafs Preview
As the Toronto Maple Leafs cling to the Eastern Conference’s
final playoff spot, the Montreal Canadiens are trying to make a run
at their archrivals for that position.
The Canadiens can match a season high with a fourth consecutive
victory Saturday night and spoil Toronto’s tribute to Mats
The leading scorer in Maple Leafs history with 420 goals and 987
points, Sundin will have his No. 13 raised to the rafters in a
pregame ceremony. He will be the 18th player in franchise history
to have his number retired.
Toronto hopes the emotion in the building can help carry the
team to a much-needed win. The Maple Leafs (28-21-6) open a
three-game trip to Western Canada following this matchup, which
comes after back-to-back road losses left them one point ahead of
Washington for eighth place in the East.
Montreal remains closer to the bottom of the conference than a
playoff berth, but the Canadiens have climbed within nine points of
Toronto thanks to a three-game winning streak.
Even the Catholic church in Montreal is trying to boost the
Canadiens (22-24-9), recently placing an ad in local newspapers
asking fans to pray for the team to reach the postseason.
“Montreal is a beautiful place, we just have to keep winning,”
center Scott Gomez said. “That’s the bottom line.”
A former 30-goal scorer, Gomez notched his first in more than a
year Thursday while Max Pacioretty had a hat trick in a 4-2 road
win over the New York Islanders.
“I’m happy for the team, obviously for Pac with three goals and
Gomer for getting that gorilla off his back,” said Carey Price, who
made 31 saves. “And it sure is nice to string a few wins
Price is a big reason why that’s happened, starting all three
games during the winning streak and allowing four goals.
He’s also surrendered four over his last three starts at
Toronto, winning twice. The most recent came Jan. 21, when he made
32 saves in a 3-1 victory. Price was in net as Montreal lost the
other two meetings this season – both in October.
The Leafs had been on a 5-0-1 run before suffering regulation
losses by one goal in each of their last two games – at Winnipeg
They trailed after the first period for the first time in six
games Thursday in a 4-3 loss to the Flyers.
“We coughed up the puck too much,” coach Ron Wilson said. “We
worked so hard to make it 2-2. We just have to learn from it.”
Tyler Bozak had two goals, Joffrey Lupul scored one and Phil
Kessel had two assists as all three forwards extended their point
streaks to four games. Kessel has four goals and five assists
during that span, Bozak has been nearly as hot with four goals and
three assists, and Lupul has totaled six points.
Pacioretty is clearly the hottest Montreal player with 10 goals
in the past 12 games. However, he’s gone pointless in three
meetings with the Leafs this season and has no goals in four career
games in Toronto.
Montreal owns the league’s least effective power play (12.7
percent) and is facing a Leafs team that has killed off all 28 of
its opponents’ power plays in 2012 – a span of 17 games.