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Game Day: Canadiens @ Maple Leafs

Claude Julien tweaks lineup ahead of Saturday night matchup in Toronto

by Steven Nechay @CanadiensMTL /

TORONTO -- The Canadiens practiced in Toronto on Saturday morning, in preparation for an Original Six matchup at the Air Canada Centre with playoff implications on the line.

- Heading into Saturday's action, the Maple Leafs sit just four points back of the first place Habs in the Atlantic Division, with a game in hand.

If ever the timing to spark a lengthy win streak was right, it would be now.

"It means a lot -- every game means a lot, especially right now with the way things have been going in our division and with our team," underlined Max Pacioretty, who has 18 goals and nine assists in 35 career games against the Maple Leafs. "It's a Saturday night in Toronto, so there are no issues with getting up for this game, but I think the positions in the standings will add a little fuel to the fire."

The Leafs for their part will be fired up, as they look for a first win against Montreal since the 2013-14 season. Mike Babcock's men have picked up five points in their last three outings, but are losers of 13-straight to the Habs.

"It's going to be a lot of fun. We're not worried about stuff like streaks [...]. We're just worried about one game at a time," continued the Canadiens captain. "This is an important game, and it's a Saturday night in Toronto, so we couldn't ask for a better opportunity to feel good about ourselves. We'll worry about what we can control, and that's our game."

Video: Pacioretty on the Toronto-Montreal rivalry

- The morning skate at the ACC was an optional one, with six players electing to stay off the ice. Among those who did take part, were David Desharnais, Nikita Nesterov, and Sven Andrighetto, all of whom should be back in the lineup to face the Leafs.

Desharnais notably returns following a six-game absence, and will play his first game under new head coach Claude Julien.

"I'm pretty excited. It's hard to be watching from the sidelines, so hopefully I can make a difference tonight," shared the Laurier-Station, QC native, who last suited up in Colorado on February 7. "I have experience, and I know I can put points on the board. I'll try to make plays and make things happen out there. Offensively, for sure I can contribute."

And a spark on offense is just what the Habs need, after scoring just 10 goals in their last eight games.

"I want to give him a chance to find his game," explained Julien. "He's a good skater and playmaker, and he should help us have four solid lines out there tonight."

Video: Desharnais on returning to the lineup in Toronto

- Game time at the Air Canada Centre is scheduled for 7:00 p.m., and will be broadcast on CBC, City TV, and TVA Sports.

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