Leafs, Canadiens square off for third time this season
Tuesday, 12.01.2009 / 7:30 PM
NHL.comMAPLE LEAFS (6-12-7) at CANADIENS (12-12-2)
Toronto 3-5-2; Montreal 4-4-2
One of the League's top rivalries renews itself for the third time this season, and both of the previous games have required some bonus hockey to determine a winner. Josh Gorges
scored with 12.8 seconds left in overtime for a 4-3 Montreal win on opening night at the Air Canada Centre, and the Canadiens prevailed 5-4 at the Bell Centre on Halloween night on the strength of shootout goals by Scott Gomez
and Mike Cammalleri
It's a big week for the Habs, who will celebrate their 100th anniversary on Friday when another Original Six rival in Boston comes to town. First up, though, they want to take care of business against the Leafs, who popped in six goals Friday to down Florida before a 3-0 shutout loss to Buffalo at the Air Canada Centre on Monday.
For the second time in the month of November, Toronto came up short in its bid for a three-game winning streak. It wasn't for lack of shots on goal, as the Maple Leafs pumped 38 of them at Sabres goalie Ryan Miller. But the likely starter for the U.S. Olympic team in Vancouver stopped every last one as the brain trust of that team -- Ron Wilson and Brian Burke -- looked on.
"Their goalie over there has stolen two games against us," forward Matt Stajan said, referencing an earlier OT loss to Buffalo. "I don't know what it is. Maybe his Team U.S. coach and GM are on our side, he wants to prove something? I don't know what it is, but he's one of the best and you've got to give him credit."
Injuries are starting to mount in Montreal, but that could hardly be blamed for the Canadiens' failure to secure two points against the Capitals on Saturday. They rallied from a two-goal deficit to take a 3-2 lead into the final minute of play. A penalty to Paul Mara for high-sticking with 16 seconds left helped create a 6-on-4 advantage for the Caps, who got the tying goal from Eric Fehr with 11.4 remaining and then won 4-3 in the shootout. The Canadiens have won only one of their last four.
"For us, it's not good enough," Cammalleri said. "A lot of guys in here are upset. I don't really care who doesn't expect us to get the points. In this room we expect to get the points and we think that the way we've been able to play as a unit has been an effective way to get two points in a game and once again we put ourselves in position to do it tonight, so this group here is not happy with the one point."
Like the rest of his Toronto teammates, Niklas Hagman was held off the board against Buffalo, but he had six goals in four games prior.
Montreal forward Travis Moen
, a defensive specialist who has never tallied more than 11 goals in a season, has six after scoring against Washington. Tomas Plekanec
has two goals and eight points in his last half-dozen games. He's also recorded four assists in the two games against Toronto this season.
Toronto activated former Montreal defenseman Mike Komisarek and he played Monday. Defenseman Jeff Finger missed the game with a lower-body injury and fellow blueliner Carl Gunnarsson left the game with an upper-body injury. Forward John Mitchell (knee), defenseman Mike Van Ryn (knee) and goaltender Vesa Toskala (groin) are all on injured reserve.
Listed as questionable for Montreal are Gomez (groin) and fellow forward Andrei Kostitsyn
(foot). Still on injured reserve are defensemen Andrei Markov
(ankle) and Hal Gill
(foot) and forwards Matt D'Agostini (concussion), Brian Gionta
(foot) and Benoit Pouliot
(wrist). Forward Georges Laraque is serving a suspension.
The Canadiens remain one of nine teams unbeaten this season when leading after two periods.
In rivalries such as this one, the games tend to be competitive regardless of who's up and who's down. The first two matchups have featured plenty of physical play and gone down to the wire.
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