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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, April 7th (All times Eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (35-36-10) at Montreal Canadiens (30-35-16), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Two of the NHL's biggest rivals will wrap up disappointing seasons tonight, as the Montreal Canadiens host the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre in the season finale for both clubs.
Montreal will finish last in the Eastern Conference this season and miss the playoffs for a second straight spring. Toronto, meanwhile, is just four points ahead of Montreal in the East standings and had its franchise-record postseason drought extended to seven seasons.
Toronto has taken three of five encounters against the hated Canadiens this season and the Maple Leafs have also won three in a row and five of their last seven tests in Montreal.
The Maple Leafs are 2-0-1 over their last three games and are coming off Thursday's 3-2 overtime win against visiting Tampa Bay. Dion Phaneuf scored 4:01 into the extra session to lift Toronto to victory in its final home test of the season.
"We talked about wanting to win at home for our fans in the final home game," said Phaneuf. "All of our focus was on winning this one for them and we feel good about tonight."
Tim Connolly and Jake Gardiner also scored for Toronto, with Gardiner's goal tying the game late in the third period. Ben Scrivens made 35 saves in the win -- only the Maple Leafs' 10th since the All-Star break (10-17-5).
The Maple Leafs finished the season with an 18-16-7 record at home and the club is 17-20-3 as the guest.
Montreal has also gained a point in three straight contests, but has gone 1-0-2 over those tilts. The Canadiens dropped a 2-1 shootout decision at Carolina on Thursday to finish their road slate with a 15-20-6 mark. Montreal hasn't fared much better at home this year, posting a 15-15-10 record at the Bell Centre.
Eric Staal scored the game-winning goal in the third round of the shootout for the Hurricanes. Staal went in on goal with speed, making a quick deke and lifting the puck past the stick side of Habs goalie Peter Budaj to seal the victory.
Blake Geoffrion netted the only goal for the Canadiens, while Budaj was a hard-luck loser, making 28 saves on 29 shots through overtime.
"We're pleased in the fact that nobody quit and it was great effort on many guys' part," Canadiens head coach Randy Cunneyworth.
With regular No. 1 goaltender Carey Price out with a concussion, Budaj is expected to start the season finale for Montreal. Toronto's top two goaltenders, Jonas Gustavsson and James Reimer are also injured, meaning Scrivens could get the call again tonight.
04/07 10:42:29 ET
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