Skip to main content

Maple Leafs-Canadiens Preview @NHLdotcom

The Montreal Canadiens haven't had a Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year since goaltender Ken Dryden in 1972.

A strong finish in net by Carey Price could end that drought.

With a chance to move atop the Eastern Conference, Price leads the Canadiens into their regular-season finale on Saturday night at the Bell Centre against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Montreal (46-25-10) hasn't finished first in the conference since 1992 - the year before its 23rd and most recent Stanley Cup championship - but enters this contest tied with Pittsburgh for the East lead with 102 points.

The Canadiens are just 3-3-1 against Toronto this season and have lost two straight in the series, including 4-2 last Saturday. Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said a win in this game will put added pressure on the Penguins, who conclude their season Sunday in Philadelphia.

"(We have) a chance to finish first," he said. "We don't know what will happen on Sunday, but if we win on Saturday, it will force Pittsburgh to play their best players."

The Canadiens' best player over the final six weeks of the season has been the 20-year-old Price. The NHL rookie of the month for March came within 8:30 of his second straight shutout on Thursday in a 3-1 win over Buffalo.

Since taking over as the No. 1 goaltender on Feb. 26 after veteran Cristobal Huet was traded to Washington, Price is 11-3-0 with a 2.20 goals-against average, two shutouts and a .930 save percentage.

Carbonneau told the Canadiens' official Web site that he's not surprised by the success from the fifth overall pick in 2005, who helped lead Hamilton of the AHL to a Calder Cup title last season.

"You often hear about a goalie being in the zone for a period of time. Carey certainly was at the World Juniors, in Hamilton, and even with his junior team," Carbonneau said. "And now since the trade deadline, Carey has been in that zone."

Price, 23-12-3 with a 2.60 GAA overall, is part of a stellar rookie class that includes Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews of Chicago, Washington's Nicklas Backstrom and Peter Mueller in Phoenix. Price is 3-1-0 with a 2.46 GAA against the Maple Leafs, but lost in his last start versus them on Feb. 7 in Montreal.

Toronto (36-34-11) is out of the playoffs in three straight seasons for the first time since 1926-28 and will be looking to avoid a third straight loss to end 2007-08. The Maple Leafs gave up three short-handed scores, and tied a season high for goals allowed in falling 8-2 to Ottawa on Thursday in their home finale.

"It's a real disappointing end," coach Paul Maurice told the Maple Leafs' official Web site.

Darcy Tucker assisted on goals by Mark Bell and Dominic Moore, while Vesa Toskala played the entire game and stopped 29 shots.

The Maple Leafs close 2007-08 without captain and leading scorer Mats Sundin, who's out with a groin tear. The 37-year-old Sundin has 32 of Toronto's 230 goals this season, and may have played his final game with the team.

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.