Skip to main content

Headlines

Maple Leafs-Canadiens Preview

NHL.com @NHL

The Montreal Canadiens have parlayed strong special teams play into a strong start to the season.

They'll look to continue their solid beginning and win consecutive games for only the second time this season when they host the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Montreal (5-2-2) is off to a fast start for the second straight season after beginning 2005-06 with a 13-3-3 mark. Eleven of those victories were by one goal and the Canadiens are using a similar formula this year with three wins by a single goal.

Outstanding work on special teams has helped the Canadiens. Although Montreal ranks near the bottom of the league with 47 power-play chances, it has scored 12 times for a 25.5 percent conversion rate - one of the best in the NHL.

The Canadiens have also been solid on the penalty kill, allowing only five goals in 59 chances (91.5 percent) while also scoring three short-handed goals.

They won 3-2 at Boston on Thursday on a power-play goal by defenseman Andrei Markov with 1.2 seconds left.

"It was a huge win," Montreal captain Saku Koivu said. "It feels a lot bigger when you steal it in the last few seconds."

Koivu hasn't scored in eight straight games, but he has a team-high eight assists.

David Aebischer and Cristobal Huet have split the starts in goal this year for Montreal. Huet, who has started the last two games, has a 2.93 goals-against average in five games while Aebischer has a 2.46 GAA in four outings.

Montreal will be looking to take advantage of a Maple Leafs club that has conceded 43 goals - the most in the Eastern Conference. Toronto (4-4-3) has surrendered 18 goals during a three-game losing streak, including a 7-2 defeat at Ottawa on Thursday.

Maple Leafs goaltender Andrew Raycroft has allowed 12 goals in his last two starts. He was pulled after two periods of Tuesday's 6-2 loss to the Senators and surrendered seven more goals to Ottawa on 40 shots Thursday.

Defenseman Tomas Kaberle is also off to a slow start for Toronto. Kaberle, who had a career-high 67 points last season, has just two assists this year and has turned in three straight minus-2 efforts.

Montreal won the first meeting between these clubs this season with a 3-2 shootout road victory on Oct. 7. Aebischer stopped 36 shots and Raycroft made 31 saves, but allowed Michael Ryder to beat him in the fourth round of the shootout.

Toronto won its first two games in Montreal last season before being outscored 11-3 in dropping the last two matchups at the Bell Centre.

View More