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Game preview: Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MAPLE LEAFS (25-31-5) at CANADIENS (40-16-5)

TV: CBC, TVA

Season series: The Montreal Canadiens have won their first two games this season against the Toronto Maple Leafs, extending their streak to four in a row dating to last season. Tomas Plekanec leads the Canadiens with two goals and three points. David Desharnais had the decisive shootout goal in their most recent game, a 2-1 Canadiens win Feb. 14.

Maple Leafs team scope: Saturday marks the start of a four-game road trip for Toronto, which has played seven straight one-goal games and won two in a row after starting that stretch 0-4-1. The Maple Leafs hadn't put together consecutive wins since Dec. 13-16, when they won three in a row, a streak they can match Saturday.

They assigned defenseman Petter Granberg to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League on Friday.

Defenseman Dion Phaneuf, in his first game since Jan. 21, scored a power-play goal that held up as the game-winner and had 25:28 of ice time in his return from a hand injury Thursday, a 3-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers. Goalie Jonathan Bernier's 47 saves were one off his career high.

Canadiens team scope: Defenseman Jarred Tinordi was reassigned to Hamilton of the American Hockey League on Friday. Tinordi had 12 penalty minutes in four games with Montreal since his most recent recall.

Sergei Gonchar returns to the lineup on Saturday after missing the last six games with an upper body injury. The 40-year-old rearguard suffered the setback the last time Toronto was in town, taking a hit from behind from since-departed Maple Leafs forward David Clarkson on February 14. He'll be paired with recent Habs call-up Greg Pateryn on the blue line.

After registering a team-high four hits in his Canadiens debut during Thursday’s 5-2 win in Columbus, Habs newcomer Devante Smith-Pelly now gets set to step onto the Bell Centre ice for the first time on Saturday.

Forward P.-A. Parenteau has been practicing this week and working his way back into game shape from a concussion. "I'm glad I'm seeing my teammates play such good hockey," Parenteau, out since mid-January, told canadiens.com. "I know we have a great team but I know when I'm 100 percent healthy I can definitely help them. I'm working really hard to get my spot back." The 31-year-old winger has been cleared to play but will not be in uniform on Saturday.

Forward Jacob De La Rose scored his first two NHL goals Thursday in a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Montreal leads the Eastern Conference and has closed to within four points of the Nashville Predators in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.

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