NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, April 13th
(All times Eastern)
Montreal Canadiens (26-9-5) at Toronto Maple Leafs (22-13-5), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - With a playoff spot already clinched, the Montreal
Canadiens will try to damage their archrival's postseason chances when they
visit the Toronto Maple Leafs for Saturday's Original Six clash at Air Canada
Montreal, which is still locked in a heated battle with Boston for first place
in the Northeast Division, secured its fifth postseason appearance in six
years thanks to Thursday's easy win in Buffalo. It's been quite the turnaround
in 2013 for the Canadiens, who not only missed the playoffs last season but
also finished last in the conference.
Toronto, meanwhile, is trying to end a seven-season playoff drought -- the
longest such streak in franchise history -- and enters Saturday's showdown as
the fifth seed in the East. With 49 points, the Maple Leafs are one ahead of
Ottawa and five points in front of the New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets, who
are tied for the eighth and final postseason berth.
The Senators and Jets are idle on Saturday, but the Rangers will visit the New
Toronto began the season series against the Canadiens with two straight wins,
outscoring Montreal by a combined 8-1 margin in those games. The Habs,
however, responded with a 5-2 win at Toronto on Feb. 27, giving Montreal wins
in four of the last five matchups at Air Canada Centre. The Canadiens have won
four of seven overall in this series.
The clubs will play once more in the regular season after tonight, as the
Canadiens are scheduled to host the Leafs on April 27.
The Maple Leafs will try to get back on track tonight after having a two-game
win streak halted with Wednesday's shootout loss in the finale of a home-and-
home series against the Rangers. Despite the setback, Toronto still managed to
register a point for the 11th time in 12 outings, having gone 7-1-4 over that
Mats Zuccarello scored the lone goal in the shootout to give the Rangers a 3-2
victory at Madison Square Garden. Toronto had won its home portion of the
series on Monday, notching a 4-3 regulation win.
Fresh off a two-goal, one-assist performance in Monday's triumph, Phil Kessel
potted both Toronto markers in the loss. James Reimer finished with 26 saves
for the Maple Leafs, who had won five of their last six coming in.
"At the end of the day we battled hard for a point and it's a very valuable
point and we'll just keep working," said Reimer.
Toronto is 11-7-2 as the host this season and is playing two straight and
three of its next four at the ACC.
The Maple Leafs could be without forwards Joffrey Lupul (concussion) and
Mikhail Grabovski (illness) on Saturday. Lupul has been cleared for practice
after missing the last three games, but is not expected to play against the
Canadiens. Grabovski, who did play in New York on Thursday, is questionable
The Canadiens used goals from five different players and 14 saves from Peter
Budaj to breeze to their playoff-clinching 5-1 win over the Sabres. The win
also moved Montreal into first place in the Northeast Division, one point
ahead of Boston after the Bruins lost to the Islanders on Thursday. The
Bruins, who visit Carolina on Saturday, have eight games left in the regular
season -- the same as Montreal.
Brendan Gallagher, Rene Bourque, Alex Galchenyuk, Andrei Markov and P.K.
Subban all lit the lamp on Thursday for the Canadiens, who have won six of
their last eight.
"It's always more fun when you can go in on a win. It's more exciting," said
Gallagher. "We can look back at what we've done so far and be happy with it
but we can't be satisfied. This is just the beginning."
Montreal, which will host Philadelphia on Monday, is 13-4-2 as the road club
04/13 10:16:21 ET