Leafs look to continue recent mastery of Canadiens
MAPLE LEAFS (7-8-3) at CANADIENS (12-6-1)
TV -- CBC (HD), RDS (HD), NHLN-US (HD)
Last 10 --
Toronto 2-6-2; Montreal 6-4-0
Season series --
This is the second of six games between the two clubs. The Maple Leafs and the Canadiens played each other in their season opener on Oct. 7. Tim Brent, Phil Kessel and Clarke MacArthur scored for Toronto, which held onto a one-goal lead to take a 3-2 victory. Dustin Boyd
and Jeff Halpern
were Montreal's goal scorers.
Big story --
The Leafs will be looking for their third-straight win after eight-straight losses when they face the Canadiens on Saturday and they will have all the momentum, given that Toronto has posted a 4-0-1 record in its last five games against Montreal. The Habs, while still leading the Northeast Division, were shut out by the Predators on Thursday after winning four straight.
"We lost quite a bit in a row and now we've won two," Kessel said. "Hopefully we can get a couple more."
Maple Leafs --
Jonas Gustavsson made 29 saves on Thursday to lead the Leafs to a 3-1 victory over New Jersey. With Jean-Sebastien Giguere out for at least a week, Gustavsson will get the chance to start a few games and show he is capable of carrying the load. He did just that on Thursday and was already looking forward to Montreal after the win over the Devils.
"It's awesome, you want to play those games when the crowd is going nuts and it's really loud," Gustavsson said. "Games with a big rival are always fun to play because you really want to win those games. That's a game I'm really looking forward to."
"He played really well," coach Ron Wilson said. "He made a lot of saves and used his size well on shots that he could see."
Mikhail Grabovski, Kessel and Kris Versteeg scored for Toronto, while Nazem Kadri picked up a pair of assists. In his third game of the season, the rookie played on the top line with Kessel and Tyler Bozak.
The Canadiens got a little taste of their own medicine on Thursday. Tuesday they shut out the Flyers in a 3-0 win; on Thursday they were shut out themselves in a 3-0 loss to Nashville.
Thursday simply wasn't a good night for the Habs, who saw their top line of Tomas Plekanec
, Michael Cammalleri
and Brian Gionta
combine for a minus-8 rating. Carey Price
finished the night with 27 saves
"I can accept losing when we have a strong effort, but we weren't good enough in a number of areas," coach Jacques Martin said. "It wasn't a matter of X's and O's, it was a matter of a lack of intensity to win our battles."
"Our support staff did their job. It was our better players that weren't good enough, just look at the plus-minus."
Who's hot --
Kessel has 2 goals and 2 assists in his last three games, while Versteeg is riding a four-game point streak with 3 goals and 2 assists. … Plekanec and Gionta had their five-game points streaks broken on Thursday, but should be able to regain their spark. The same goes for Price, who has been one of the League's best goaltenders thus far this season.
Injury report --
The Canadiens will be without Andrei Markov
(right knee) for some time, but the extent of his injury has yet to be determined. … As noted, Giguere (groin) will be out for at least another week, while defenseman Dion Phaneuf (left leg surgery) and forward Colby Armstrong (finger surgery, broken foot) are on injured reserve.
Stat pack --
Pat Burns, who died Friday of cancer at the age of 58, coached both the Leafs and the Canadiens during his career. With Montreal, he posted a 174-104-42 record from 1988 to 1992. With Toronto, from 1992 to 1996, he posted a record of 133-107-41.
Puck drop --
The Canadiens will surely pay tribute to Burns before the game on Thursday. He led the Habs to a Stanley Cup Final in his first season as an NHL coach.
Canadiens center Scott Gomez
will also be thinking of his former coach, who he won a Stanley Cup with in 2003 with the Devils.
"One thing I can say, I earned his respect, because he earned mine and he was one of the best coaches I've ever been around," Gomez told CKAC Sports. "I got a Stanley Cup ring because of Pat Burns and every time I look at that ring, I think of Burnsie."