The Montreal Canadiens lowered their guard just a bit and were defeated 4-2 by the hungry Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre yesterday.
The Canadiens’ home record is becoming a big problem. It’s been quite awhile since the team won even two games in a row on their own ice.
Head coach Guy Carbonneau warned his team that the Leafs would be play tough, hoping to recover from a humiliating 0-8 loss to the Florida Panthers. And Toronto did dominate most of the matchup.
The only offensive production came from the red hot Montreal line as Tomas Plekanec with his 20th goal and Alex Kovalev—on a Plekanec assist—scored for Montreal. The other three offensive lines, modified before the second period by Carbonneau, never clicked.
For now, Toronto can hope they’ve just begun a serious winning streak. The Leafs need to bunch up wins right now in order to stay in the hunt.
The goal scorers for Toronto were Kris Newbury (1st of the season), Darcy Tucker, Kyle Wellwood, and again Tucker (his second of the night came during the final minute and into an empty net).
Vesa Toskala, in net, played better as the game went on and made 34 saves on 36 shots.
Montreal's 20-year-old rookie goaltender Carey Price, was back in NHL action after spending a few weeks with Hamilton. He wasn't impressive at all, and could easily slide back into the AHL if his next start is not a solid one—if he ever does get another start.
The team surely understands that Price will not give enough to the team this season. I expect Cristobal Huet and Jaroslav Halak will mind the net once the first round of the playoffs opens for Montreal.
With the recent Senators victory (Heatley was back in the lineup and registered two goals and an assist), the Habs now stand three points behind Ottawa and both teams will face off on Saturday evening.
This game will be a big one for both Ottawa and Montreal. I expect a great performance from Ottawa. If the Canadiens want to stay within the leading pack of the Eastern conference contenders, they have to play their best game of the season and steal two points in Ottawa on Saturday.