Game Preview: Canadiens @ Maple Leafs
CANADIENS (27-16-5) @ MAPLE LEAFS (24-20-5)
A classic rivalry will be renewed on Saturday night when the Canadiens visit the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
The Habs will go in search of a second consecutive victory after besting the Senators 5-4 in overtime on Thursday night. Despite establishing a three-goal lead early in their most recent tilt in Ottawa courtesy of goals from Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais, Paul MacLean’s troops battled back to tie the score and eventually take the lead into the middle portion of the third period. After Plekanec levelled the scoreline with his second goal with ten minutes remaining in regulation time, P.K. Subban beat Craig Anderson in the extra frame to help the Canadiens pick up two big points in the standings. The story of the game, however, was Carey Price, who stopped 40 shots to register his 22nd win of the season.
For their part, the Leafs will be in action for the first time since Wednesday night when they downed the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 in a shootout. Phil Kessel, Nikolai Kulemin and Morgan Rielly scored for Toronto, while James van Riemsdyk, Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak all lit the lamp in the shootout. James Reimer stopped 27 of the 30 shots he faces to lift Toronto to their third consecutive victory.
Nathan Beaulieu and Joonas Nattinen, both of whom were called up from the Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday, will be in the Canadiens lineup on Saturday night against the Maple Leags. Beaulieu has played five games with the Habs thus far this season, registering one assist and posting a plus-2 differential. Nattinen, meanwhile, will be making his NHL debut.
The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, will be deprived of David Clarkson and Dave Bolland’s services on Saturday night. Clarkson, who missed the first game of the year against the Canadiens due to a suspension, was placed on injured reserve on Friday with an elbow injury. Bolland has been sidelined since Nov. 3 with an ankle injury. He has only recently begun skating again, but it still several weeks away from making his return.
Saturday night’s tilt will be third of five meetings between the two teams this season. The Leafs earned a 4-3 win on Oct. 1, while the Canadiens came out on top 4-2 on Nov. 30. Price was between the pipes for both previous meetings for Montreal, while Reimer and Jonathan Bernier each got the call on one occasion. It should come as no surprise that Price will be get the start in Toronto. He will be making his 39th start of the year.
Lars Eller and Max Pacioretty have been the Habs’ top two forwards against the Leafs this season with two goals apiece and four and three points, respectively. Mason Raymond and van Riemsdyk also boast two goals apiece in two games against the Canadiens this year.
The Habs and Leafs are meeting for the first time this season in Toronto. The bleu-blanc-rouge has enjoyed success down the 401 in recent years on Saturday nights, having come out on top in four out of their last five visits to the Air Canada Centre.
Number cruncher – The Odd Couple
Seven nation army