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Danault debuts for Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs

Center acquired Friday in trade with Blackhawks

by Sean Farrell / Correspondent

MAPLE LEAFS (21-28-10) at CANADIENS (29-27-5)


MONTREAL -- Center Phillip Danault will make his Montreal Canadiens debut against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Bell Centre on Saturday.

Danault was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks along with their second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft on Friday in a trade for forwards Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann.

"He's a very good defensive player, he's also got great offensive talents as well," said Montreal forward Lucas Lessio, who was Danault's teammate with Canada's U-18 team in 2010-11. "I think he'll be a great complement to this team for sure. He was one of our better players overseas and obviously he's been developing very well. He came from a very, very good team and organization in Chicago, so I'm expecting nothing but a very good player."

Danault was selected by the Blackhawks in the first round (No. 26) of the 2011 draft. The 23-year-old native of Victoriaville, Quebec, had one goal and five assists in 30 games with Chicago this season.

"I know in Chicago they really liked him," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "They really liked the way that he is responsible on the ice, and he's a good kid and he's got a bright future and we're going to work with him."

Therrien said Danault and forward Michael McCarron would be in the lineup against Toronto, though neither had arrived when the Canadiens held an optional morning skate at their suburban practice facility.

McCarron and defenseman Morgan Ellis were recalled from St. John's of the American Hockey League on Friday.

"[McCarron] takes a beating out there every single night," said Canadiens defenseman Victor Bartley, who played with him in St. John's. "For a big man he's got great hands, he can really skate for a big guy as well, and he's willing to take that punishment in front of the net to be able to get dirty goals, so that's something that every team needs and you can definitely never have too many of those guys on your team."

Montreal, which has won nine straight games against the Maple Leafs, has an opportunity to match its longest winning streak against Toronto in the 99-year history of the NHL's oldest rivalry. The Canadiens won 10 straight games against Toronto from Jan. 2 to Nov. 12, 1958.

"Our games against Montreal have been good games," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "They've found a way to win each one of them, so we've got to find a way to come out on the positive end of things. So we're excited to play."

Defenseman Matt Hunwick will be paired with Morgan Rielly in his return after missing four games because of a lower-body injury.

"When you play with Morgan you play against the other team's top line, so I'll have to be ready right from the drop of the puck tonight," Hunwick said.

Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier, who has yet to win in Montreal, will make his second straight start.

"I've got to approach it like it's any other team and just go do my job, shot by shot, save by save," Bernier said. "That's how you usually get a good end result."

Here are the projected lineups:

Michael Grabner - Nazem Kadri - Leo Komarov
Josh Leivo - Mark Arcobello - PA Parenteau
Colin Greening - Peter Holland - Daniel Winnik
Brendan Leipsic - Byron Froese - Brad Boyes

Matt Hunwick - Morgan Rielly
Jake Gardiner - Martin Marincin
Stuart Percy - Frank Corrado

Jonathan Bernier
Garret Sparks

Injured: Stephane Robidas (lower body), Milan Michalek (finger), Joffrey Lupul (sports hernia), James van Riemsdyk (foot), Tyler Bozak (upper body).
Scratched: none

Max Pacioretty - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher
Alex Galchenyuk - Lars Eller - Michael McCarron
Paul Byron - Jacob De La Rose - Devante Smith-Pelly
Sven Andrighetto - Phillip Danault - Torrey Mitchell

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin - Greg Pateryn
Victor Bartley - Mark Barberio

Mike Condon
Ben Scrivens

Injured: Carey Price (lower body), Nathan Beaulieu (lower body), Daniel Carr (knee), David Desharnais (broken left foot), Brian Flynn (lower body), Jeff Petry (abdomen), Tom Gilbert (left knee)
Scratched: Lucas Lessio, Morgan Ellis

Status report: Sparks was recalled after the Maple Leafs traded goalie James Reimer to the San Jose Sharks. Komarov returns after serving a three-game suspension for elbowing Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers. "It's nice to play hockey," Komarov said. "I had a little rest for a week. It's tough to see the boys play when you're healthy and you can help them but you're suspended. It's a little bit different feeling. But I'm happy I'm back now." Michalek skated for a second straight day Saturday. He expects to return next week. … Price practiced on his own in goalie equipment at Bell Centre for a second straight day Saturday. Therrien spoke to the Canadiens medical staff for an update on Price's recovery from the lower-body injury that has sidelined him since Nov. 25. "They're very satisfied with his progress," Therrien said.

Who's hot: Parenteau has three goals and three assists in his past six games. Kadri has five assists during a three-game point streak. Boyes has two goals and four assists in his past seven games. Markov has a goal and six assists in his past six games. … Galchenyuk had his third two-goal game of the season Wednesday.


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