The visiting Montreal Canadiens will try to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs for the third time in three meetings this season on Saturday night.
The Canadiens were the home team in both victories over the Maple Leafs this season — 4-3 on Oct. 12 in the season opener and 3-2 in overtime on Jan. 21.
The Canadiens had their three-game winning streak end Thursday night when they opened a four-game road trip with a 6-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C.
Michael Pezzetta and Rafael Harvey-Pinard scored for the Canadiens and goaltender Sam Montembault made 35 saves.
The Canadiens led 1-0 and were tied 2-2 before the Hurricanes took the game over.
“I think we just let it slip and we got a little complacent,” Pezzetta said. “And then once they got the (goal to make the score 3-2), I think we just let off the gas a bit. They’re a good hockey team.”
Harvey-Pinard’s game-tying power-play goal at 15:01 of the second period was his seventh goal in 11 games since he was called up from AHL affiliate Laval.
The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, have split the first two games of a three-game homestand after their 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday. Auston Matthews had a goal and an assist in the game after missing the previous five games with a sprained knee.
In his return to the lineup, Matthews also blocked two shots, had a takeaway to set up a goal by Conor Timmins and won 12 of 17 faceoffs.
Matthews’ linemate Wlliam Nylander scored his 30th goal of the season and added two assists against Chicago.
“Nothing really changes, just want to be hard on pucks and compete,” Matthews said. “Willy’s been all over it, the consistency factor has been really good this year. It’s a treat to play with him.”
Nylander is the first Maple Leaf to reach 30 goals this season.
“(Nylander is) always on the front foot, always being aggressive,” said John Tavares, who had a goal and an assist on Wednesday. “Using his speed and his strength and putting the opponent on their heels. He’s just making it happen. He’s being aggressive that way and knowing what a threat he is.”
Matthews said that his adrenaline kicked in and he felt “not too bad” during the game.
Wednesday’s game was a good rebound effort for the Maple Leafs from their loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets last Saturday that opened the homestand.
“Anytime we made some mistakes or some things didn’t go our way, we didn’t let it snowball,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “We didn’t let it get away from us, we brought it back pretty good. So all in all, I thought we did what we needed to do (Wednesday).
“Frankly speaking, it’s a game we’re not going to evaluate too much in terms of anything good, anything bad. We’re going to wash it, move on … and get ready for Montreal.”
–Field Level Media