CANADIENS (38-26-7) @ MAPLE LEAFS (36-27-8)
A classic rivalry will be renewed on Saturday night when the Canadiens visit the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
On Thursday night, the Habs killed off seven penalties but could not hold off the Columbus Blue Jackets, who won 3-2 at the Bell Centre on the strength of a late goal by leading scorer Ryan Johansen. Brendan Gallagher and Thomas Vanek scored for the home team, while Derek MacKenzie and Brandon Dubinsky lit the lamp for Columbus. Carey Price made 37 saves on 40 shots while Sergei Bobrovsky made 25 stops on 27 Montreal attempts.
On Wednesday night, the Maple Leafs’ playoff hopes took a hit when the team lost 5-3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning scored three first-period goals and added one more in each subsequent period. Steven Stamkos had a big night with three goals on three shots. Phil Kessel, Nikolai Kulemin and Jake Gardiner scored for the Leafs, while James Reimer made 25 saves.
Toronto will be without Jonathan Bernier, who is out with a strained groin, and Paul Ranger who suffered a head injury against Tampa Bay. The Leafs will probably have Dave Bolland back in the line-up Saturday, Bolland has been out since early November, recovering from ankle surgery. Meanwhile, out for Montreal are Josh Gorges and Brandon Prust.
Ranked third in the Atlantic Division, Montreal currently has 83 points in 71 games. Toronto is forth in the Atlantic Division with 80 in 71 games. The Leafs boast the ninth best offense in the league, but rank a lowly 26th overall in goals against. Meanwhile, Montreal is ranked 19th and 9th respectively.
Saturday night’s tilt will be fifth of five meetings between the two teams this season. The Habs won 4-3 in overtime at the Bell Centre on March 1 thanks to a goal from Max Pacioretty.
The Habs and Leafs are meeting for the second time this season in Toronto. The bleu-blanc-rouge has enjoyed success down the 401 in recent years on Saturday nights, having come out on top in four out of their last six visits to the Air Canada Centre.
Puck drop will be at 7:00PM E.S.T.