This Tuesday night sees the Habs (9-4-3) roll into the Air Canada Centre in search of their first victory against the Leafs (7-7-4) this season. Montreal lost the last meeting between the two teams on November 3 at the Bell Centre. That night Toronto’s Matt Stajan managed to score the game-winning goal in the last two minutes against Christobal Huet.
The only other meeting this season between the Leafs and Canadiens came on October 6 at the ACC. The Habs dropped their second game of the season that night 4-3 in Overtime. Kaberle scored the overtime winner that night on the powerplay, while Ponikarovsky scored twice.
Montreal is coming off a hard fought loss to the Ottawa Senators last Saturday afternoon at the Scotiabank Place. After leading for two periods the Habs were not able to contain the high-powered Ottawa Senators and eventually lost the game 3-1. The Leafs are coming off a 3-2-shootout loss at home on Saturday night to the New York Rangers. Sean Avery of the Rangers was able to get under the skin of Darcy Tucker on Saturday, while grabbing a goal and an assist.
The Montreal offence has really been struggling of late scoring only 5 goals in their last three games. However, the Habs were still able to take 2 wins out of the 3 games they played last week. The Canadiens are relatively healthy going into Tuesday night’s game with Steve Begin the only question mark. After receiving a few players back from the IR list last week the Leafs lost a big part of their blue line against the Rangers as Pavel Kubina went down with a MCL injury to his right knee and is out indefinitely. The only other injury concern for the Leafs is Carlo Colaiacovo who is also out of the lineup with a knee injury.
The Canadiens look set to give rookie Carey Price the start in net after Huet has been snake bit against the Leafs recently. This will be the Price’s first start in what is the most storied rivalry in hockey. In order for the Habs to be successful at the ACC they will need to continue to score on the powerplay, keep playing solid team defence, and hope for a clutch goaltending performance from Price. The Leafs have been very inconsistent and sloppy on home ice this season another opportunity the Habs should try and exploit. A hard fought 60 minutes from the Canadiens is a must to grab the two points
In what could prove to be a fight to the finish in the Eastern Conference again this year, these division games are becoming increasingly important as the season wears on.