The Montreal Canadiens are hoping they've shaken their recent struggles on the power play.
The Canadiens look to build on a strong special-teams performance Saturday when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs in a matchup between two teams trying to stay in the playoff hunt.
Montreal (35-31-6) leads the Eastern Conference in power-play percentage, converting 22.7 percent (75-for-331) of their chances with the man advantage. However, the Canadiens were stuck in a 1-for-25 slump over the previous four games before scoring three goals on six chances in Friday's 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh.
Montreal has scored at least three power-play goals in nine games this season and has recorded four twice. Toronto, meanwhile, has allowed six power-play goals in its last four games.
"Our power play has been good all year, and that gave us a chance to come back in the game tonight," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said Friday. "We obviously need more 5-on-5 and tonight that wasn't the case."
The Canadiens have dropped five of their last seven games overall. Chris Higgins, Sheldon Souray and Andrei Markov scored for Montreal, which is in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the Carolina Hurricanes and the New York Islanders, both tied for seventh.
"At this point it's still in our hands," Souray said. "If we win our games, we will still be in a good position."
Right wing Alexei Kovalev missed his second straight game because of vertigo and center Radek Bonk also did not make the trip to Pittsburgh because of the flu.
The Maple Leafs (34-28-9), meanwhile, are tied with the New York Rangers for ninth in the East, just one point behind the conference's cut-off point. They are coming off just their second loss in five games, a 5-1 defeat to Washington - a team that had dropped nine straight.
Nik Antropov scored the lone goal for Toronto, which has been held to one in each of its last four defeats.
"We've been slow out of the gate the last three, four games," said Mats Sundin, who assisted on the goal. "For some reason we're not on our toes at the start of the game."
Sundin needs one more goal to match Darryl Sittler's franchise record of 389.
Toronto is 3-1-2 against Montreal this season and has outscored the Canadiens 22-16. However, the Maple Leafs have dropped four of the last five road games in the series, including two of three this season.
Tomas Kaberle has four goals and six assists against the Canadiens this season, but hasn't played since March 2 when he suffered a neck injury in a collision with New Jersey's Cam Janssen.
Montreal's Saku Koivu has four goals and two assists in the season series.
|Apr 07 '07||MTL 5 at TOR 6||K. Wellwood|
|Mar 17 '07||TOR 2 at MTL 3 - SO||A. Kostitsyn|
|Feb 26 '07||TOR 4 at MTL 5||S. Souray|
|Jan 27 '07||MTL 1 at TOR 4||J. O'Neill|
|Dec 02 '06||TOR 3 at MTL 4 - SO||S. Souray|
|Nov 11 '06||MTL 1 at TOR 5||M. Stajan|
|Oct 28 '06||TOR 5 at MTL 4 - SO||K. Wellwood|
|Oct 07 '06||MTL 3 at TOR 2 - SO||M. Ryder|