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Canadiens-Maple Leafs Preview @NHL
Canadiens-Maple Leafs Preview

GAME: Montreal Canadiens (14-6-3) at Toronto Maple Leafs (12-8-3).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

Playing the Montreal Canadiens may be just what the Toronto Maple Leafs need to avoid their third straight loss.

After losing back-to-back games for the first time in nearly a month, the Maple Leafs welcome the Canadiens to the Air Canada Centre.

The Maple Leafs are 9-3 against the Canadiens since a 5-2 loss on Nov. 2, 2002 at Montreal.

Toronto lost Friday to the Carolina Hurricanes in a shootout, 4-3. Jeff O'Neill, Jason Allison and Chad Kilger scored in regulation, but O'Neill and Mats Sundin were turned aside in the shootout

"It's never fun to lose in a shootout the way we did, but at least we showed some character," said O'Neill, who spent nine seasons with the Hurricanes franchise before being dealt to Toronto in July.

Ed Belfour was given the night off in place of backup goaltender Mikael Tellqvist, who finished with 35 saves. Belfour has recorded wins in two of the three matchup against the Canadiens this season, pushing his career mark against them to 12-10-3 with a 2.69 goals-against average, .891 save percentage and two shutouts.

Toronto has not dropped three in a row since going 0-1-2 to start the season.

Montreal comes off a 3-1 loss Friday to the Buffalo Sabres. Richard Zednik scored the only goal for the Canadiens, who have dropped three of their last four.

Yann Denis got the start in goal for the Canadiens, but Jose Theodore is expected to start in this contest. Theodore has struggled against the Maple Leafs both this season and in his career.

In three appearances against Toronto this season, the 2002 Hart and Vezina Trophy winner is 1-1-1 with a 3.92 GAA and a woeful .815 save percentage.

For his career, Theodore is 4-10-3-1 with a 2.86 GAA and .898 save percentage against the Maple Leafs.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 25): Canadiens - 31 points, 2nd place, 3 PB, Northeast Division. Maple Leafs - 27 points, 3rd place (tied), 7 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canadiens - Michael Ryder, 10 goals; Saku Koivu, 18 assists and 26 points; Steve Begin, 49 PIM. Maple Leafs - Eric Lindros, O'Neill, 10 goals; Bryan McCabe, 22 assists and 31 points; Wade Belak, 38 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 25): Canadiens - Power play: 19.4 percent (29 for 149), 11th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.7 percent (125 for 153), 17th (tied). Maple Leafs - Power play: 23.2 percent (34 for 146), 2nd. Penalty killing: 81.2 percent (117 for 144), 20th.

GOALTENDERS: Canadiens - Theodore (11-4-3, 0 SO, 2.92 GAA); Danis (3-2-0, 1, 2.69). Maple Leafs - Belfour (10-6-2, 0, 3.38); Tellqvist (2-3-0, 0, 2.84).

SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 12; Maple Leafs, 5-4, OT. At Montreal, O'Neill scored the game-winning goal with 47 seconds remaining in overtime for Toronto.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canadiens - 6-2-2 on the road; Maple Leafs - 8-4-1 at home.

Associated Press
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