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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, January 24th (All times eastern)

Toronto Maple Leafs (26-12-8-3) at Montreal Canadiens (24-17-6-2), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Maple Leafs will shoot for their third straight victory tonight, when they close out a short two-game road trip against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre.

Toronto picked up a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. Alexei Ponikarovsky snapped a tie with two goals in the third period to lead the Leafs to the victory.

Craig Johnson also lit the lamp for Toronto, which has won two straight since a home-and-home sweep at the hands of Philadelphia. Ed Belfour made 21 saves in the victory, and kept the Leafs in it late after Washington pulled within 3-2 on Peter Bondra's goal in the final six minutes.

Toronto is 3-4-0 in its last seven games and leads the East and the Northeast Division by just one point over Ottawa. The Leafs have been very solid on the road this season, posting a 13-7-6-1 mark.

Leafs left winger Darcy Tucker underwent surgery on his left eye and will be out indefinitely. He was slashed in the face by Islanders forward Jason Blake's stick Tuesday. Toronto recalled forward Josh Holden from the AHL.

Montreal lost a 2-0 decision to the New Jersey Devils on Friday, dropping it to 7-2-1 in 2004. The Canadiens remain in the fourth spot in the Northeast Division with 56 points -- seven back of Toronto.

Jose Theodore made 22 saves including one on a penalty shot for the Canadiens in Friday's defeat.

Montreal forward Jason Ward separated his left shoulder midway through the third period when checked into the boards by Devils defenseman David Hale. It is unknown when Ward will be able to return to the ice.

The Canadiens fell to just 1-16-3 in their last 20 trips to the Meadowlands, including four consecutive losses.

Montreal is 6-1-2 in its last nine home games, improving to 13-8-4-0 for the season.

Toronto has won two straight and five of the last six meetings between these two rivals. The road team is 5-2-2 in the last nine meetings. Toronto is 15-4-4 in the last 23 contests.

01/24 10:16:11 ET


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