Published January 18, 2014
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Maple Leafs will take aim at their longest winning streak of the season when they host the rival Montreal Canadiens in Saturday's Atlantic Division battle at Air Canada Centre.
The Maple Leafs had lost four straight in regulation from Jan. 4-10 but have won their last three games to match a season-best winning streak. Another victory tonight against a fellow Original Six club would give Toronto its first four-game winning streak since Feb. 5-11 of last season.
Two of the Leafs' three wins on their current streak have come via the shootout, including Wednesday's 4-3 win against visiting Buffalo. Joffrey Lupul was credited with the game-winner after all three Toronto shooters scored in the shootout to lead the home club to victory.
James van Riemsdyk opened the shootout with a wrister past Ryan Miller, but Matt Moulson answered at the other end to even the score. Lupul then lifted a shot high over Miller's glove from between the circles and after Buffalo's Cody Hodgson came up empty, Tyler Bozak lit the lamp to hand the Leafs the extra point.
Nikolai Kulemin, Morgan Rielly and Phil Kessel each scored once in regulation for the Leafs. James Reimer record 27 saves in the victory.
"If we can continue to find a way to get points, that's what our job is and get ourselves back and climb into a playoff position," Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle said.
Toronto actually is in a playoff spot entering Saturday's action, as it currently holds the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.
Montreal also is in postseason position at the moment, as it sits third in the Atlantic Division with 59 points -- six more than the Leafs.
The Canadiens and Leafs have split the first two of five scheduled regular- season meetings, but Saturday's test marks the first encounter of the season in Toronto. The Habs have taken two of three and three of five overall in this matchup and four of five at Air Canada Centre.
Montreal won for the second time in three games on Thursday after notching a thrilling overtime win in Ottawa. P.K. Subban's goal 23 seconds into overtime lifted the Canadiens to the 5-4 win at Canadian Tire Center.
The Habs led 3-0 in the first period, but allowed Ottawa to cut the deficit to one by the end of 20 minutes and the Sens held a 4-3 edge heading into the third period. However, Montreal tied the game on a Tomas Plekanec goal with 8:58 left in the third and Subban beat Ottawa netminder Craig Anderson from the right circle to end the contest early in the extra session.
The hard work by Montreal captain Brian Gionta on the forecheck in the Ottawa zone forced a turnover in overtime. Subban picked up the puck and fired a shot that squeaked past Anderson and trickled across the goal line.
Plekanec had two goals and Carey Price had a stellar outing, making 40 saves for Montreal.
"I'm just trying to do my job and give us an opportunity and we took that opportunity and made the best of it," Price said.
The win came at the start of a four-game road trip and improved Montreal's record as the guest to 13-8-2. After tonight's tilt, the Habs won't see action again until Wednesday's game in Pittsburgh.