NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, February 9th (All times Eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (6-5-0) at Montreal Canadiens (6-3-1), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Toronto Maple Leafs will aim for their first three-game winning streak in over a year when they visit the rival Montreal Canadiens for Saturday's Original Six clash at the Bell Centre.
The Maple Leafs posted consecutive 3-2 victories in Washington and Winnipeg this week, giving the club its second two-game winning streak of 2013.
Toronto hasn't won three in a row since Feb. 1-6 of last season. However, the Leafs followed that three-game winning streak with losses in 15 of their next 17 games, a swoon that contributed greatly to Toronto missing the postseason for a seventh straight year.
Saturday's contest is the second meeting of the season between the Habs and Leafs. The clubs began the campaign against each other in Montreal on Jan. 19 and Toronto posted a 2-1 victory. It was the fourth win in the last seven meetings for the Maple Leafs, who have claimed four of the last five encounters at the Bell Centre.
With a 5-1-0 record on the road this season, the Leafs have done just about all of their damage in 2013 away from Toronto. Another win on Saturday will allow Toronto to complete their current three-game road trip with a perfect record.
Matt Frattin and Phil Kessel each netted third-period goals to help Toronto edge the Jets on Thursday. The win was the Maple Leafs' first in Winnipeg since Nov. 1, 1995, when Toronto defeated the original Jets, who are now known as the Phoenix Coyotes.
Kessel finally recorded his first goal of the season on Thursday after going the first 10 games without a score. The soft-spoken sniper had a career-high 37 goals in 2011-12 and has led Toronto in tallies in each of the previous three seasons.
Tyler Bozak added a goal and an assist, while James Reimer made 23 saves in Thursday's win.
"We didn't play our best in the first two periods, but it is the road and you got to win however you can and we'll take it," Bozak said.
While the Leafs are coming off consecutive wins, the Canadiens will try to avoid a third straight loss on Saturday. Montreal lost 2-1 in regulation to a visiting Boston team on Wednesday before dropping a tough shootout decision the following night in Buffalo.
Buffalo's Thomas Vanek scored a pair of third-period goals, including one with 1.9 seconds left, and Jason Pominville scored the deciding goal in the shootout to lift the Sabres past the Habs, 5-4.
Tomas Plekanec scored a pair of goals for the Canadiens, while Brendan Gallagher and P.K. Subban also lit the lamp. Peter Budaj stopped 36-of-40 shots and fell to 0-1-1 in two starts this season. No. 1 netminder Carey Price, who is 6-2-0 on the year, expects to be back between the pipes on Saturday.
Trailing by two, 4-2, Vanek put his team on his back with a pair of late strikes. The first came on the power play after Montreal's Ryan White was given a four-minute roughing penalty. Vanek gathered a rebound in front and beat Budaj with a backhander at 7:57.
"I hurt the team," White said of his penalty. "It was just a selfish play."
Vanek's game-tying goal came in the dying seconds of regulation. A mad scramble for the puck took place in front of Budaj, and Vanek managed to poke the disc across the goal line past a mass of bodies. The goal was upheld following a review with 1.9 seconds to go.
Canadiens forward Travis Moen missed Thursday's contest with a lower body injury and is questionable for Saturday.
Montreal, which is 5-2-0 at home this season, last lost three in a row during a four-game slide from March 24-31.
02/09 10:54:46 ET