Maple Leafs-Montreal: Toronto Defeats Injury Plagued Canadiens

Francois GendronSenior Writer IMarch 30, 2008

The Toronto Maple Leafs took advantage of the downgraded version of the Montreal Canadiens and defeated them 4-2 Saturday evening.

Jiri Tlusty and Anton Stralman scored a pair of goals each, providing all of Toronto's scoring. Stralman's second goal, an unassisted effort, was scored on a dynamic end-to-end rush, finished by a wicked wrist shot.

The most costly for Montreal is the small general letdown that resulted in a number of minor injuries—sometimes, playing to avoid injuries result in more injuries.

The Canadiens' head coach Guy Carbonneau had to juggle his linuep all game long.

To add to the difficulty level for him, Ryan O'Byrne was ejected for elbowing an opponent during the early part of the first period. This ejection thinned the Habs' defensive roster. No Mike Komisarek, no O'Byrne, no Mark Streit available for the coach.

But despite all the lineup turmoil, Carbonneau was proactive and tried a new combination, something new that might spice up just right come playoff time.

Twenty-year old rookie Sergei Kostitsyn has looked very good and at ease at the blue line during the man-advantages. He did not produce any points Saturday, as Montreal only benefited off three odd-man rushes all game long.

But rest assured that Kostitsyn will upgrade Montreal's powerplay volatility in the short and long-term.

So Carbonneau sent Jaroslav Halak in the net, filling in for Carey Price.

Halak gave an honest performance in the losing cause. The Habs also had to deal with the loss of Saku Koivu and Streit, who were both injured in Buffalo after receiving a shot in the ankle and foot area respectively.

Rumors spread around the speculation of up to four weeks of inactivity for the captain. Koivu's state is to be evaluated by doctors Sunday in Montreal. Francis Bouillon, also hit by a shot during the Habs-Leafs game, will also be clear.

The Canadiens have now three games to play before the end of the regular season. With only a single point in one of those three games,  Montreal can still clinch the Northeast division title and a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the Eastern conference.