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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Saturday, November 3rd (All times eastern)

Toronto Maple Leafs (5-6-3) at Montreal Canadiens (7-2-3), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The surprising Montreal Canadiens will continue a four-game homestand tonight, as they welcome the rival Toronto Maple Leafs to the Bell Centre.

The Canadiens have jumped out to a 7-2-3 start to the season and are currently second behind Ottawa in the Northeast Division.

After beginning the year with a 2-2-2 record, Montreal has gone 5-0-1 in its next six games to turn some heads. The Habs bounced back from the lone setback in the stretch, a shootout loss versus Atlanta last Saturday, as they pounded the visiting Philadelphia Flyers, 5-2, on Thursday evening.

Montreal captain Saku Koivu had a goal and an assist against the Flyers, as he brushed aside criticism directed his way earlier in the week. The Finnish Koivu, who had endured scrutiny after failing to speak French in pre-recorded features shown on the video scoreboard before games, did so Thursday night while introducing the Canadiens lineup.

The crowd cheered as Koivu said "ici Saku Koivu, voici mon equipe" (translated as, "Saku Koivu here, this is my team") before reading out the Canadiens lineup in a mix of English and French.

Alex Kovalev, Tom Kostopoulos, Guillaume Latendresse and Christopher Higgins also scored for Montreal. Cristobal Huet finished with 17 saves in the victory, improving to 3-0-1 all-time against Philly.

Tonight marks the third portion of a four-game homestand for the Habs, who are 3-1-2 at the Bell Centre this season. Montreal will close the residency Monday evening against Buffalo.

The Maple Leafs were handed their second straight loss, as they were dealt a 3-2 setback in New Jersey on Friday. John Madden and Zach Parise scored less than two minutes apart late in the third period to lift the Devils.

Mats Sundin and Alexander Steen scored for the Maple Leafs, who failed to rebound from a 7-1 setback to Washington last Monday. Vesa Toskala stopped 18- of-21 shots in the loss.

Toronto was once again without defenseman Bryan McCabe, who has sat out the last four games with a groin injury. McCabe, who scored 57 points for the Leafs last year, is questionable for tonight's contest.

The Leafs and Montreal met earlier this season on October 6 in Toronto and the Habs posted an overtime victory in that affair. Toronto has won five of the last eight encounters overall, but has been defeated in three straight and five of its last six trips to Quebec.

11/03 10:29:00 ET

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