Hockey Night in Canada, against their oldest rival, on Mats Sundin night at the Air Canada Centre. That’s more than enough reason for the home team to get up for this one and we’ll expect nothing less than a spirited effort from the Leafs tonight.
Moreover, the Leafs will be eager to prevent back to back losses from turning into a losing skid. The Leafs will need to distance themselves from the ninth placed Washington Capitals, who currently trail Toronto by a point with a game in hand, or they risk losing their grasp on a playoff spot when the Capitals play the Rangers early tomorrow.
The Montreal Canadiens enter tonight riding a three game winning streak, so the Leafs will need to remind the Habs that their season is over and Gomez that he can’t score before they get any crazy ideas.
Phil Kessel the Hab Killer has been great at home and hot as of late, so look for a big game from the Thrill tonight. He’s got nine points in his last four games following just his second multigame pointless streak of the season. It doesn’t look like Kessel is going to slow down at any point, and if he stays healthy (cross your limbs), he just might become the first Leaf to break 90 points since – you guessed it – Sundin did it in 96-97. The 80-point plateau, which was last achieved by Sundin in 2001-02, certainly seems within reach for both he and Lupul.
James Reimer gets the start for the Leafs, while Carey Price gets the nod for the Canadiens.
From The Score:
The Maple Leafs enter tonight holding onto the eighth and final playoff seed in the East and are nine points ahead of Montreal in the conference standings, but the Canadiens have fared better in recent games. The Habs have won three in a row for the first time in months, while Toronto has suffered consecutive regulation losses on the heels of a three-game win streak of its own.
The Leafs are 2-1-0 against Montreal this year and each club has four wins over the last eight encounters in this series. The Canadiens have won two of the last three meetings at the ACC.