The Canadiens (38-26-7) are in Toronto Saturday night to face their bitter rivals, the Maple Leafs (36-27-8). The game starts at 7:00 and airs on RDS and CBC.
This is the fifth and final meeting between the Habs and Leafs this season. Both teams have won 2 games so far in the season series, but the Leafs hold an edge earning an extra point over the Canadiens in an overtime loss the last time these teams met. A pair of third period goals put the Maple Leafs ahead in that last meeting, but PK Subban drew the Habs even with under 10 minutes to play, and Max Pacioretty sealed the victory with the overtime game winner.
What to Watch:
Thomas Vanek netted his fourth goal as a Canadien on Thursday, it was good enough to even up the game against the Blue Jackets in the third period even though the Habs could not hang on. Carey Price gave up 3 goals on 40 shots Thursday. While that gave Price a .925 save percentage on the night, he has given up 3 goals or more in each of the 3 games he's started since returning from injury.
After being held pointless for 5 games, Phil Kessel broke his drought with a goal against the Lightning on Wednesday. He leads the Leafs in goals (35) assists (39) and points (74), a feat he's accomplished for the last two seasons. With 42 points on the year, Tyler Bozak has a chance to set a new career high despite missing 24 games this season. His previous high was 47 points in the 2011-2012 campaign.
What's at Stake:
The Canadiens have a chance to open up a 5-point gap over the Leafs with a regulation win on Saturday. With 10 games remaining for both teams after this one, that could give the Habs enough breathing room to keep them from looking over their shoulder so they can focus on catching the Tampa Bay Lightning, who sit in second in the Atlantic division.
The Canadiens announced Friday that Brandon Prust (upper body) would be sidelined for the remainder of the regular season, he'll be reevaluated for the playoffs. Josh Gorges (hand) underwent surgery on March 10, and isn't expected to return for at least two more weeks.
Paul Ranger (head) is out of action after a hit from Tampa Bay's Alex Killorn sent him to hospital. Jonathan Bernier (groin) and Dave Bolland (ankle) are questionable for Saturday's game.
The playoffs are just around the corner and even though it looked like a possibility just a few weeks ago, the chances of a first round match-up between the Habs and Leafs grow slimmer with each Tampa Bay victory. As it stands, Montreal and Toronto are the only two Canadian clubs currently in playoff position, and of the remaining 5 teams, the Canucks and Jets are closest to a spot, 5 and 6 points back respectively of the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Question Mark:
With the season winding down, which season series for the Habs has been the most fun to watch, and which has been the least?
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Be sure to tune into the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show an hour before the puck drop and the Post Game Show 5 minutes after the final siren. Join the live conversation by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
11:04 AM Rob Elbaz 5 comments