banner

NHL

more stats

NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 22nd (All times Eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (38-26-7) at Toronto Maple Leafs (36-27-8), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to halt a three-game slide on Saturday when they host the rival Montreal Canadiens in an important Eastern Conference battle at Air Canada Centre.

The recent 0-3-0 stretch has hurt Toronto's playoff chances, but the club hopes to get back on track in the finale of the regular-season series with the Habs. The showdown is loaded with postseason implications for both teams, but as of Saturday, the Maple Leafs need the win slightly more than the Canadiens.

With 80 points, Toronto is currently occupying the first of the East's two wild card spots, but is only three points behind the Habs for third place in the Atlantic Division. The top three clubs in each division earn automatic bids to the playoffs while the remaining two spots in each conference are up for grabs via wild cards.

Tampa Bay is currently two points ahead of Montreal for second place in the Atlantic. Boston, which became the first team to clinch a playoff berth with a win on Friday, is currently running away with the division crown as it holds a 16-point lead over the Lightning atop the Atlantic.

The Maple Leafs also have to keep an eye on Detroit, which is currently outside of the playoff picture but only three points behind Toronto. The Red Wings, who are tied with Washington in the East standings, also hold two games in hand over Toronto. Detroit visits Minnesota on Saturday.

The Canadiens and Leafs each have two wins in the 2013-14 season series, but Toronto has gained one more point (5) in the matchup thanks to an overtime loss when the clubs met last on March 1 in Montreal. Max Pacioretty notched the game-winner for the Habs in that meeting, scoring on the power play with 1:32 left in OT.

Toronto has won five of the last nine meetings overall and has taken two of the past three at Air Canada Centre. Montreal has four wins over the past six encounters at ACC.

The Maple Leafs were the victims of a Steven Stamkos hat trick in their most recent loss, a 5-3 home setback in Wednesday's game against the Lightning. It was the second loss in three home games for Toronto, which had won seven straight at ACC heading into the month of March.

Stamkos netted a natural hat trick, while both Ryan Malone and Valtteri Filppula added two assists to down Toronto, which fell to 22-12-1 as the host this season.

"You can definitely tell they had more jump that we did," offered Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle.

Jake Gardiner, Phil Kessel and Nikolai Kulemin lit the lamp for the Maple Leafs. Tyler Bozak also picked up two assists, but James Reimer allowed all five goals on 30 shots in defeat.

It's unclear if Reimer will get a fourth straight start on Saturday, or if No. 1 netminder Jonathan Bernier can return from a strained groin. Bernier was injured on March 13 in Los Angeles, but the Quebec native practiced in full gear on Friday and could get the start this evening.

However, the 25-year-old Bernier has not fared well in five career games against Montreal, going 1-3-1 with a 3.40 goals against average and .895 save percentage. Reimer is 5-3-0 with a 2.73 GAA and .919 save percentage in nine career games versus the Habs. In light of those numbers, Carlyle could opt to rest Bernier for another day on Saturday and save him for Sunday's road battle with New Jersey.

Leafs centerman Dave Bolland could also return to action Saturday for the first time since severing a tendon in his ankle on Nov. 2. Bolland, who was acquired in a trade with Chicago over the summer, had six goals and four assists in 15 games before the injury. On Friday, Carlyle said Bolland is day- to-day and a game-time decision for this evening's battle.

While Toronto could be getting some pieces back on Saturday, the Canadiens learned on Friday that forward Brandon Prust will miss the rest of the regular season due to an upper-body injury. Prust has six goals and seven assists in 52 games this season and also played a key role on Montreal's checking line.

The Canadiens played their first game without Prust in Thursday's 3-2 home loss against Columbus. Ryan Johansen scored the deciding goal with 3:01 remaining as the Blue Jackets snapped Montreal's three-game winning streak with a regulation win.

"Tonight was a bad night for our team," Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien said. "We played a poor game."

Montreal lost despite getting a 37-save performance from Carey Price, with Brendan Gallagher and Thomas Vanek each potting goals in defeat.

Vanek has four goals over his last two games after failing to hit the net in his first five outings with Montreal. The 30-year-old sniper was acquired at the trade deadline from the New York Islanders and has recorded 22 goals and 26 assists over 49 career games against the Leafs.

Price will get the start in net for Montreal on Saturday. He is 12-13-1 with a 2.72 GAA and .914 save percentage in 26 career games versus Toronto.

Beginning with Saturday's test, the Canadiens are playing two straight and five of their next six games away from Montreal. The Habs are 18-14-2 as the guest this season.

03/22 10:43:24 ET

Other Stories

Hurricanes

Canes fall to Red Wings 3-1 3
Faulk has goal, assist in Canes' win over Leafs

The Carolina Hurricanes brought the NHL's worst record and a long losing streak into a meeting with the Toronto Maple Leafs — perhaps hockey's hottest team.

Related Stories
  • CBB: North Carolina vs. Ohio State

    Tomorrow at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CBB: UCLA vs Kentucky

    Tomorrow at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: San Diego at San Francisco

    Tomorrow at 8:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Panthers vs. Cleveland

    Monday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • WBB: Duke vs. UMass Lowell

    Tonight at 6:30 on 620am

  • NFL: Philadelphia at Washington

    Tomorrow at 4:25 pm on 620am

Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 4
TOR 1
Final
DUKE 66
UCONN 56
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
CHA
 
Final
CHI 103
NYK 97
Final
HOU 90
NOP 99
Final
SAC 107
MIL 108
Final
GSW 114
OKC 109
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
CHA
 
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
UTA
 
7:30pm Tonight
CLE
BRK
 
7:30pm Tonight
BOS
MIN
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
TOR
 
7:30pm Tonight
MIA
WAS
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
CHI
 
8:00pm Tonight
SAN
POR
 
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
LAC
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
OKC
 
Final
RICE 72
STTHOMASTX 61
 
Final
UVA 70
CLST 54
Final
LIU 69
FIU 58
 
Final
STET 67
GSOUT 76
 
Final
QUIN 80
LEH 65
 
Final
SFLA 69
SHU 89
Final
RICH 65
SALA 54
Final
CAN 60
USB 59
 
Final
DEL 62
TEMPL 82
Final
WCU 56
WRST 69
 
Final
VERM 56
YALE 57
 
Final
SDKST 75
IDST 72
 
Final
RIDE 62
MRGST 48
 
Final
LATU 79
NICST 54
 
Final
CHAR 75
APP 65
Final
MISS 71
CCAR 68
 
Final
DUKE 66
UCONN 56
Final
BRAD 80
EUREK 38
 
Final
PEAY 76
OAKC 52
 
Final
JST 66
SMISS 46
 
Final
SD 55
MNTST 53
 
Final
UAB 70
LSU 79
Final
EVAN 81
OHIO 69
 
Final
CSFU 72
CSDH 50
 
Final
ORST 90
DEP 59
Final
PAC 69
NEV 65
Final
USF 77
PORST 40
 
Final
IDAHO 86
WALLA 39
 
Final
UTST 57
CALST 56
 
1:30pm Today
YOUNG
WILB
 
2:00pm Today
TULA
JST
 
6:00pm Tonight
RAD
SIENA
 
7:00pm Tonight
MERC
COOK
 
7:00pm Tonight
BUCK
CASEWEST
 
7:00pm Tonight
LIB
CPNC
 
7:00pm Tonight
SCAR
CLEM
 
7:00pm Tonight
CMICH
CONC
 
7:00pm Tonight
MIAMI
EKENT
 
7:00pm Tonight
GWEBB
HIWASSEE
 
7:00pm Tonight
ODU
MDES
 
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
NIAG
 
7:00pm Tonight
KSU
NCAT
 
7:00pm Tonight
FAM
UNF
 
7:00pm Tonight
NORST
NARZ
 
7:00pm Tonight
DART
NILL
 
7:00pm Tonight
MORE
NKENTUCKY
 
7:00pm Tonight
UCSB
SDCHR
 
7:00pm Tonight
STJ
GAELS
 
7:00pm Tonight
ALA
STILL
 
7:00pm Tonight
HAMP
TENST
 
7:00pm Tonight
TENN
TENT
 
7:00pm Tonight
WMARY
WSHMD
 
7:30pm Tonight
FLGC
FUR
 
7:30pm Tonight
CALST
SDKST
 
8:00pm Tonight
MTST
CHAT
 
8:00pm Tonight
NDAK
DICKINSON
 
8:00pm Tonight
LAMON
LSUALEX
 
8:00pm Tonight
PRIN
LIP
 
8:00pm Tonight
LAM
MLGN
 
8:00pm Tonight
MINN
SEAT
 
8:00pm Tonight
LOYC
SUTAH
 
8:00pm Tonight
SELA
WINT
 
8:05pm Tonight
SILL
NO
 
9:00pm Tonight
MARQ
ALAAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
TTU
ARKPB
 
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
COLST
 
9:00pm Tonight
CREI
TXPA
 
10:00pm Tonight
CAL
EWASH
 
10:05pm Tonight
UTST
IDST
 
11:00pm Tonight
UTEP
ARZ
 
11:59pm Tonight
CHAM
HAW
 
Final
PIT 1
COL 0
Final
PHI 1
FLA 2
Final
CAR 4
TOR 1
Final
CLB 4
WAS 5
Final
MON 1
ANA 2
Final
SJS 4
EDM 3
Final
LOS 6
STL 4
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
TAM
 
7:30pm Tonight
OTT
ANA
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
NYI
 
8:00pm Tonight
WIN
BOS
 
9:00pm Tonight
CAL
DAL
 
Final
JAC 21
TEN 13