NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, April 7th (All times eastern)
Montreal Canadiens (42-33-6) at Toronto Maple Leafs (39-31-11), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens will try to hold off the Toronto Maple Leafs for the eighth and final postseason berth in the Eastern Conference when the teams meet tonight at Air Canada Centre in a huge showdown between two of the fiercest rivals in professional sports.
Both the Canadiens and Maple Leafs are closing out their regular-season schedules tonight, but the East playoff race has yet to be decided. Montreal is in eighth place with 90 points and is just one point ahead of the Leafs.
The importance of tonight's game will be altered by this afternoon's matchup between the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers. If the Islanders win in Philly then they are still in the mix for the final playoff spot, but it would all come down to Montreal/Toronto if New York loses this afternoon.
If the Isles lose either of their final two games, the Canadiens can clinch the spot with a single point in tonight's test with Toronto. The Leafs would need New York to lose one of its two remaining games and post a regulation win over the Habs.
Montreal failed to seal its playoff dreams Thursday night in New York, as it was handed a 3-1 setback by the Rangers. Jaromir Jagr had a goal and an assist and Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves to help the Blueshirts seal a playoff bid.
Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves through the first two periods and Cristobal Huet stopped all eight shots he faced in the third for the Canadiens. Huet, who returned Thursday after missing over a month with a hamstring surgery, is expected to get the nod in goal tonight.
Sheldon Souray scored for Montreal, which had a two-game winning streak snapped.
The Leafs also saw their postseason dreams take a hit on Thursday, as they were dealt a 5-2 road loss by the Islanders. Jason Blake scored the go-ahead goal 3:46 into the third period to lead the Isles.
John Pohl scored and Carlo Colaiacovo had a goal and an assist for Toronto, losers in three of its last five contests. Darcy Tucker had two assists and Andrew Raycroft had 22 saves for the Maple Leafs.
Montreal holds a slight 4-3 advantage in the season series with the Leafs and has taken seven of the last 11 encounters. However, the Habs have been defeated in two straight and six of their last nine trips to Toronto.
The Canadiens are just 16-21-3 as the visiting team this year, while Toronto is 20-15-5 at the ACC.
04/07 12:32:08 ET