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Game Day: Canadiens @ Maple Leafs

Nikita Scherbak will make his NHL debut on Saturday night as the Canadiens look for a third straight win

by Montreal Canadiens @canadiensmtl /

TORONTO - The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday morning in preparation for their game against the Maple Leafs. 

- The game will mark the Canadiens' final outing of a seven-game road swing that began all the way back on December 23. Michel Therrien's troops will be going for their third straight victory following big OT wins in Nashville and Dallas.

- Both Andrei Markov and Alex Galchenyuk took part in Saturday's on-ice session as they continue to rehab from their respective injuries. The pair joined the Canadiens in Toronto on Thursday night and skated with their teammates during Friday's practice at the MasterCard Centre in Etobicoke. 

- After being called up from the AHL's St. John's IceCaps on Thursday, young gun Nikita Scherbak will make his NHL debut on Saturday night at the ACC. 

While it's certainly an exciting time for the Canadiens' top pick in 2014, he does admit feeling somewhat anxious heading into the tilt against Toronto - which is only natural, of course.

Video: Nikita Scherbak on making his NHL debut

"I feel great. It's a dream come true. I can't wait for my first NHL game," said Scherbak, who has consulted with veteran Alexander Radulov for tips on staying calm and focused on the task at hand. "Obviously, I'm nervous. I think I can control my emotions hopefully before the game. It's a good sense of nervousness. It's a dream."

Michael McCarron couldn't be happier for the 21-year-old right-winger, as the pair was teammates with Sylvain Lefebvre's squad and became good friends over the last two seasons.

"It's huge. He's super excited. I'm happy to be alongside him," said McCarron, who centered a line with Scherbak and Bobby Farnham during Friday afternoon's practice. "Usually, you get that puck luck for your first NHL game, so it's going to find his stick, I think. I think we're going to be ready to go tonight."

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: C'est le grand jour pour Nikita aujourd'hui // It's a big day for @nikscherbak #GoHabsGo ��

- Scherbak will be the 11th member of the IceCaps to suit up for the big club so far this season. That isn't surprising given the Canadiens' injury woes over the last little while. Fortunately, the two teams play exactly the same way by design, in order to facilitate the transition for players within the organization when they do make the jump to the NHL ranks at any point in time.

"The guys who are called up aren't lost when they see the way we play. The reason is simple: our team and our AHL affiliate have the same playing style. It's something that our young players don't have to pre-occupy themselves with and worry about. They're used to playing a certain way. They just have to focus on the rhythm of the game in the NHL, making good decisions, and breaking up the other team's plays," explained Therrien. "It takes good execution and you have to be fast. There's a lot less space out there in the NHL compared to the AHL. Any kid who comes up has to adapt quickly."

Video: Michel Therrien on the impact of the Habs' youngsters

- Speaking of Therrien, should the Canadiens win on Saturday night, it would mark the 400th win of his career as a head coach in the NHL.

- Carey Price will get the start in goal for the Canadiens. He'll be looking to pick up his 20th win of the season.

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on CBC and TVA Sports, as well as on TSN Radio 690 and 98,5 fm.

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