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Maple Leafs will play Canadiens in first round of Stanley Cup Playoffs

Will be first postseason series between teams since 1979

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

The Toronto Maple Leafs will play the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Toronto (35-13-6) won the Scotia North Division and will have home-ice advantage against fourth-place Montreal (24-21-10) in the best-of-7 series.

Game 1 has not been scheduled. The playoffs start Saturday.

It will be the first playoff series between the Maple Leafs and Canadiens since 1979. They met in the postseason 15 times from 1918-79; Montreal won eight of those series.

"We've had some good battles against these guys," Toronto defenseman Travis Dermott said Wednesday. "We have a good rivalry going. We go head-to-head pretty well. We match up pretty evenly. I think it's going to be fun.

"This is what playoffs are all about. You get excited and fired up about seeing what your team is going to be able to do. And I think that first series, us versus Montreal, is just going to expand that into something bigger. It's something, like I said, that people can kind of relate to and kind of think about a rivalry whenever hockey started, between these two teams. So it's going to be fun for everyone."

The Maple Leafs went 7-2-1 against the Canadiens this season, outscoring them 34-25.

"To be able to play the Leafs in the first round of the playoffs, even just playing the Leafs in general, is a special feeling, doesn't matter where you are in the League," Canadiens goalie Jake Allen said. "But to be able to play for the Canadiens, playing the Leafs in the playoffs... it's been such a long time since that's happened and now we've got to cherish it and we've got to embrace it. It's going to be fun, it's going to be hard, but it's going to be a great opportunity for us. They've had our number in the regular season but this is a new chance and a new chapter."

Forward Auston Matthews led Toronto with 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 10 games against Montreal. Forward Mitchell Marner scored 11 points (four goals, seven assists), forward John Tavares scored 10 (three goals, seven assists), and defenseman Jake Muzzin scored eight (one goal, seven assists).

Jack Campbell started six games against the Canadiens, going 4-1-1 with a 2.16 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. Frederik Andersen started four, going 3-1-0 with a 2.73 GAA and .912 save percentage.

"I think the excitement is going to be huge, seeing those jerseys playing against each other," Dermott said. 

The Canadiens, who were 3-6-1 against the Maple Leafs, were led by forwards Tomas Tatar, Josh Anderson and Nick Suzuki with four goals each. Tatar played in seven of the 10 games. Defenseman Jeff Petry led Montreal in points with 10, all assists. Suzuki had four assists to give him eight points against Toronto, and forward Tyler Toffoli scored seven points (three goals, four assists).

Carey Price went 1-2-1 with a 3.48 GAA and .868 save percentage in four starts against the Maple Leafs. He hasn't played since April 19 because of a concussion, but coach Dominique Ducharme said Monday he expects Price to be healthy for the start of the postseason. Allen was 2-3-0 with a 2.66 GAA and .907 save percentage, and rookie Cayden Primeau started one game, allowing four goals on 11 shots (.733 save percentage) before being pulled after the first period in a 5-2 loss May 6.

Matthews leads the NHL with 40 goals and has scored 65 points in 50 games. Marner leads the Maple Leafs with 67 points (20 goals, 47 assists) in 54 games. Tavares has scored 49 points (18 goals, 31 assists) in 54 games, and forward William Nylander has scored 41 (16 goals, 25 assists) in 49 games.

Andersen is working his way back from a lower-body injury and hopes to be ready for the start of the series. He went 13-8-2 with a 2.91 GAA and .897 save percentage this season but hasn't played for the Maple Leafs since March 19.

Campbell is 17-2-2 with a 2.11 GAA, a .923 save percentage and two shutouts.

Toffoli leads the Canadiens with 28 goals and 44 points in 52 games. Petry has scored 42 points (12 goals, 30 assists), and Suzuki has scored 39 (13 goals, 26 assists), each in 55 games. Tatar has scored 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists) in 49 games, and Anderson has scored 17 goals in 52 games.

Price is 12-7-5 with a 2.64 GAA and .901 save percentage this season. Allen is 11-12-5 with a 2.68 GAA and .907 save percentage.

The Maple Leafs are in the postseason for a fifth straight season. They lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets in five games in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers last season and haven't won a playoff series since 2004.

The Canadiens are in the postseason for a second straight season. They defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in four games in the Qualifiers before losing in six games to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference First Round last season.

The series winner will play the winner of the series between the Edmonton Oilers (No. 2) and Winnipeg Jets (No. 3) in the second round.

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