TORONTO - Three points is all that separates the Canadiens from the Maple Leafs for third spot in the Atlantic Division, so you know Claude Julien's troops would love to play spoiler at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday night.
If that's going to happen, the Habs are going to have to bring the same type of effort they showcased in back-to-back victories over the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Philadelphia Flyers on home turf earlier in the week.
But, they will likely have to step their game up another notch to down Mike Babcock's group in their own barn.
"It's a four-point game. We can take two away from them and climb two in the standings. You see how tight the division is. We want to keep climbing and keep pushing them down and keep catching the guys ahead of us," said forward Andrew Shaw, who is clearly primed for the third installment of the season-series between the two Original Six rivals. "We've got to treat it like a playoff game for us. Passion, character, work ethic, it's all got to be there tonight."
Video: Andrew Shaw on the keys to downing the Maple Leafs
That shouldn't present a problem for this edition of the Canadiens, who've come up just short against the Maple Leafs in the two previous encounters on the year, falling in overtime both times.
"We've played two strong games against them so far. I thought it could have went either way. Tonight will be a big game," insisted defenseman Victor Mete. "If you look at the standings, it's a huge game for both teams and we've got to come out and play hard."
From a strategic standpoint, Mete is adamant that there are a few key ingredients to having success against the likes of big guns Mitch Marner, John Tavares and Auston Matthews.
"I think it's about staying out of the box," mentioned Mete. "They have a really good power play and a lot of young talent there. Close quickly on them and just move our feet. We're both good skating teams, so if we're able to skate with them, I think we can keep up with them."
Max Domi is adamant that the Canadiens can get the job done to kick off their four-game road trip on a high note.
"You need to play with passion and you've got to have the confidence that you can beat any team. I think as a group we have that confidence right now. We respect Toronto as a team. They've got a lot of talent, they've got a lot of weapons, but we know that we can beat them," said Domi. "We've just got to find a way to do it now."
Video: Max Domi on his transition to the Canadiens
Like Domi, the Habs' bench boss is confident that the group can rise to the occasion again on Saturday night.
"The guys are inspired because we see what's happening [with the team] and we see the number of games left decreasing every day. We want to give ourselves a chance to play in the playoffs. The guys are inspired, the guys are excited," said Julien. "If everyone takes that approach, it increases our chances."
A special night for Victor
A native of nearby Woodbridge, ON, Mete always enjoys taking to the ice at Scotiabank Arena.
As per usual, his cheering section will be extra-large on Saturday night.
"I think it's going to be pretty crazy. I don't know even how to describe it. It's probably going to be nuts," said Mete, when asked what he expects the atmosphere in the building to be like come puck drop. "I'll have a lot of friends and family here, too, so they'll be fun to play in front of."
Video: Victor Mete on the matchup against Toronto
Julien is eager to see Mete at work in a matchup like this with so much on the line, and he expects him to keep on delivering on the back end alongside captain Shea Weber.
"He manages situations like these well. He doesn't seem like a guy who's too nervous. He's focused on his work. He's a good asset," praised Julien. "We're asking a lot of a young man who doesn't have that much experience in the NHL, but I think he's doing well. In situations like these tonight, we should see him at his best."