Canadiens-Maple Leafs Preview
GAME: Montreal Canadiens (2-0-0) at Toronto Maple Leafs (0-0-1).
TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EDT.
The Toronto Maple Leafs took a chance in signing Eric Lindros. Now with captain Mats Sundin out for at least a month with an eye injury, Lindros will be on the team's top line as they host the Montreal Canadiens.
Lindros has had an injury-prone career of his own, suffering multiple concussions with the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers before signing with the Maple Leafs.
The 6-foot-5 center knows he has large skates to fill for Sundin, who suffered a broken lower orbital bone in the first period of Wednesday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators.
"He's our leader, our captain, our best player," said Lindros, who scored a goal in his Leafs' debut. "I think everybody needs to grab hold of the rope and carry on."
Sundin was hit with a puck and immediately dropped to the ice, covering his face. He is expected to miss at least 4-to-6 weeks provided he does not need surgery.
"It makes you sick," said forward Darcy Tucker, who plays without a visor. "It's obviously something that goes through your mind when you go home at night and you're lying in bed.
"Eyes are a precious thing."
Lindros, who has 18 goals and 46 points in 35 lifetime games against the Canadiens, will center the Leafs No. 1 line with Alexei Ponikarovsky and Nik Antropov. Clarke Wilm, who was a healthy scratch Wednesday, likely will center Lindros' old line that features Chad Kilger and Tie Domi.
The Maple Leafs also will have a full defense corps with the likely return of Wade Belak and Ken Klee, who were both sidelined for the opener with injuries.
The Canadiens are trying to sweep a season-opening three-game road trip after wins in Boston and New York. Michael Ryder scored the winning goal for the second straight game, tallying 2:10 into overtime as the Canadiens beat the Rangers 4-3 on Thursday.
Ryder, who was the runner-up to Patrice Bergeron for the Calder Trophy in 2003-04 as the NHL's best rookie, has started quickly with three goals in two games. He missed five of Montreal's eight preseason games with a sprained ankle.
"Right now he's hot," Canadiens captain Saku Koivu said. "Two big, big goals for us. Somebody has to do it, but he's been doing it."
The Canadiens are again expected to be without Richard Zednik, who suffered a groin injury Wednesday against the Bruins. His replacement, rookie Alexander Perezhogin, scored his first NHL goal in Thursday's win.
STANDINGS (through Oct. 6): Canadiens - 4 points, 1st place, Northeast Division. Maple Leafs - 1 point, 4th place, 3 PB, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Canadiens - Ryder, 3 goals and 3 points; Alexei Kovalev, 2 assists; Pierre Dagenais, 8 PIM. Maple Leafs - Lindros and Bryan McCabe, 1 goal; Tomas Kaberle, 2 assists and 2 points; Tucker, 4 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 6): Canadiens - Power play: 12.5 percent (2 for 16), 14th in NHL. Penalty killing: 92.3 percent (12 for 13), 8th. Maple Leafs - Power play: 9.1 percent (1 for 11), 20th (tied). Penalty killing: 100 percent (5 for 5), 1st (tied).
GOALTENDERS: Canadiens - Jose Theodore (2-0-0, 1.97 GAA). Maple Leafs - Ed Belfour (0-0-1, 1.85).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 4-2.
LAST MEETING: March 13, 2004; Canadiens, 4-3. At Montreal, Zednik and Mike Ribiero each had a goal and an assist as the Canadiens twice erased one-goal deficits.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canadiens - 2-0-0 on the road; Maple Leafs - 0-0-1 at home.