Just when the Toronto Maple Leafs were getting healthy, they started getting hurt again.
The Maple Leafs will be without defenseman Pavel Kubina Tuesday as they host the Montreal Canadiens (9-4-3), hoping to earn their third win in as many tries this year over their Canadian rivals.
Kubina is out indefinitely after injuring a ligament in his knee in Toronto's 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Rangers Saturday. The injury came just two games after veterans Bryan McCabe (sore groin) and Darcy Tucker (knee) returned to the lineup and the third game for Kyle Wellwood (sports hernia) and Mark Bell (suspension).
Despite Kubina's absence, the Leafs (7-7-4) are hoping to build on the momentum they gained over the weekend, when they took three out of four possible points, beating the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 before falling to the Rangers.
"Overall, it was a pretty good weekend," said Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala. "... I guess we have to be happy with that."
After goalie Andrew Raycroft shut out the Sabres Friday, Alexei Ponikarovsky scored two goals two minutes apart late in the second period Saturday to erase a 2-0 deficit against the Rangers.
"We had momentum and were pumped up and cheering for each other," Ponikarovsky said. "I was sure we were going to score another one."
But they couldn't, and goals won't come easily against Montreal, either.
The two Canadian "Original Six" franchises have been playing each other for almost 90 years, but much hasn't separated the teams recently. Eight of the last 10 games have been decided by one goal, one ended in overtime and four required shootouts.
Toronto has won each game this season against Montreal by one goal, including one in overtime. Montreal, though, has gone 7-2-1 in its last 10 games and split the first two games of its four-game road trip.
The Canadiens, however, are coming off a 3-1 loss at Ottawa on Saturday. They led 1-0 after a period - continuing their season-long stretch of not trailing after 20 minutes - but allowed three goals in the final 5:10 of the third.
"It's a hard one, not getting any points," said Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet, who made 35 saves and has a 2.07 goals-against average this season. "Everybody played very well but you know, we can definitely play with them. The season is long and I'm sure it's going to be a lot of good hockey against that team for the rest of the season."
Montreal's offense has been held to two goals or fewer in the last four games, but Toronto, which has allowed an NHL-worst 65 goals, could be a welcome sight.
Toronto is second in the East with 59 goals, but has scored just 12 in its last six games, going 2-3-1 in that span.
|Apr 05 '08||TOR 1 at MTL 3||C. Higgins|
|Mar 29 '08||MTL 2 at TOR 4||J. Tlusty|
|Feb 07 '08||TOR 4 at MTL 2||K. Wellwood|
|Dec 15 '07||TOR 1 at MTL 4||S. Koivu|
|Nov 27 '07||MTL 4 at TOR 3 - SO||A. Kostitsyn|
|Nov 13 '07||MTL 4 at TOR 3 - OT||M. Komisarek|
|Nov 03 '07||TOR 3 at MTL 2||M. Stajan|
|Oct 06 '07||MTL 3 at TOR 4 - OT||T. Kaberle|