February 21, 2004
GAME: Montreal Canadiens (29-24-6-2) at Toronto Maple Leafs (33-16-9-3).
TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.
One game after one of their top forwards returned to the lineup, the Toronto Maple Leafs could get back arguably their most important player.
Toronto goalie Ed Belfour could make his first appearance in more than a week when the Montreal Canadiens visit the Air Canada Centre.
Belfour has missed six of the past seven games with an ailing back, but is not ruling out starting Saturday.
"I've heard (in the past) I was done, so this is nothing new," Belfour said. "People like to have stories and want to talk about career-ending injuries, but that's not the case here. If this were the playoffs, I'd be playing through this."
If Belfour is unable to play, Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn should feel comfortable giving Mikael Tellqvist his second straight start.
Tellqvist stopped 34 shots and Darcy Tucker scored 2:18 into overtime, lifting Toronto to a 2-1 victory at Carolina on Thursday.
Tellqvist, 4-0-2 this season, is making a strong case to remain the backup when Belfour does return. Regular backup Trevor Kidd is 1-3-1 while allowing 22 goals in his last five starts.
"It's always nice to be undefeated," Tellqvist said. "I just try to come up here and work as hard as possible every time I get a chance to play. I'm the No. 3 guy in this rotation. I need to keep working so maybe one day I can be a No. 1."
Still missing leading goal scorer Gary Roberts, the Leafs were happy to get right wing Alexander Mogilny back in the lineup Thursday. Mogilny, who missed 40 games following hip surgery, played a little more than 13 minutes without recording a point.
"It was like coming back and starting over again because they played exceptionally well," Mogilny said. "It was a little bit difficult but I am glad it is over. A couple of times I got pushed around but (the hip) held up nicely."
Toronto, which sits tied with Philadelphia atop the Eastern Conference, has been outscored 11-6 in losing its last two home games.
Montreal scored four unanswered goals - two by Pierre Dagenais - and Mathieu Garon made 19 saves in a 4-1 victory over visiting Calgary on Thursday.
The win snapped a season-high four-game losing streak for the Canadiens, who moved into a tie with the New York Islanders for seventh in the East.
"Before the game, all the guys talked together. We all wanted to win this game," Dagenais said.
Canadiens coach Claude Julien could have an interesting decision on his starting goalie for Saturday.
Garon has won each of his four starts since Dec. 23 while No. 1 goalie Jose Theodore has lost four straight starts and eight of his last 10.
-- Associated Press