Canadiens at Maple Leafs
The Montreal Canadiens lost both home games against the Original Six rival Toronto Maple Leafs this season, falling 2-1 in their season opener and 6-0 on Feb. 9. On Wednesday, the Canadiens will make the first of three visits to Toronto with the hopes of building on their tenuous Northeast Division lead. After each loss to the Maple Leafs, Montreal went on its longest winning streaks of the season (four and five games, respectively) and holds a one-point lead on Ottawa with a game in hand after dropping a 2-1 decision to the Senators in a shootout on Monday.
Toronto, which is two points behind Ottawa, has won its last three home games to improve to 4-4-0 at Air Canada Centre this season. Goaltender Ben Scrivens has two shutouts in seven starts since James Reimer suffered a knee injury and has looked confident in net - aside from allowing four goals on 19 shots in a loss to Tampa Bay. Reimer earned the shutout the last time Toronto defeated Montreal, while Scrivens made 21 saves in the season-opening win over the Canadiens. With Reimer poised to return soon, the Maple Leafs may finally have the kind of goaltending tandem that other teams desire.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, TSN, RDS
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (12-4-3): Montreal re-acquired Michael Ryder and also secured a third-round pick in the 2013 draft from Dallas for fellow right wing Erik Cole on Tuesday. Ryder has collected six goals and eight assists in 19 contests this season for the Stars. Carey Price was in net for both losses against the Maple Leafs, but is 10-3-2 on the season with a 1.90 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. After recording eight points in his last six games - including his first four goals of the season - Max Pacioretty leads the team with 14 points. Tomas Plekanec has 13 points and a team-leading eight goals, but hasn’t scored in the last four games. Raphael Diaz leads team defensemen with 13 points and rookie Alex Galchenyuk has four points in his last five games and 12 on the season.
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (12-8-0): With three assists in his last two games, Nazem Kadri seized the team scoring lead from Phil Kessel. Kadri has 17 points, while Kessel - who has five points in as many games, has 16 on the season. James van Riemsdyk leads the team with 11 goals and Cody Franson tops team defensemen in scoring with 11 points. Matt Frattin, who is second on the team with seven goals despite not playing since Feb. 11, is close to returning from a knee injury. Mikhail Grabovski has three goals in his last four games.
1. The Canadiens won two of three games in Toronto last season, including posting a 5-0 victory on Feb. 11, 2012.
2. Kessel had a goal and two assists in his last game against Montreal. He has 31 points in 37 career games against the Canadiens.
3. Joffrey Lupul skated with the Maple Leafs last week, but there is no timetable for his return from a fractured forearm.
PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 1