The Montreal Canadiens are flourishing, but they hardly looked like it in their most recent matchup with the rival Toronto Maple Leafs.
Riding an eight-game point streak, the Canadiens will try to avenge that defeat while denying the Maple Leafs a fourth straight home victory Wednesday night.
Montreal (12-4-3) is among the Eastern Conference's best teams and 6-0-2 in its last eight games, but it was routed 6-0 by Toronto on Feb. 9 before starting that point streak. Carey Price gave up a season-high six goals on 28 shots and the Canadiens showed their frustration by racking up 65 penalty minutes, their most in the past two seasons.
The Maple Leafs (12-8-0) had a season-high 51 penalty minutes in their second win in as many tries against their Original Six rival. They won 2-1 in Montreal in the season opener Jan. 19.
"We've dropped two to them so far this year and we don't want to continue that. We want to go in there and have a good effort," Montreal forward Brian Gionta said.
While they have a point in eight straight, the Canadiens have suffered both of their most recent losses over the last three games. They fell 2-1 in a five-round shootout against Ottawa on Monday.
"You feel like you let the team down when you don't get two points, especially when you don't score enough goals," forward Max Pacioretty said. "We're playing good hockey, but we need to touch up on a couple of things like getting bodies to the net."
The Canadiens might have a difficult time getting a better performance Wednesday as Toronto has outscored its past three visitors 11-3 with goaltender Ben Scrivens appearing in all three games. Scrivens replaced an injured James Reimer in a 5-2 home win over Philadelphia on Feb. 11 and has started seven straight games.
He made 23 saves in a 4-2 victory against the Flyers on Monday, and Mikhail Grabovski scored his third goal in four games in the third period.
"We did a really good job of clearing pucks and clearing rebounds in the third," Scrivens said. "We found a way to hang on, and we made some smart plays."
With the Leafs also playing Thursday, it's unknown if Scrivens will get an eighth straight start in this game. He stopped 21 shots in the season-opening win.
If he starts again, Scrivens will try to help Toronto avoid a third straight home loss to the Canadiens. Montreal won 5-0 in its most recent visit Feb. 11, 2012.
Rene Bourque scored one of his team's four goals in the second period of that win but was diagnosed with a concussion this week after originally thought to have the flu.
Price, 0-3-0 with a 3.07 goals-against average in his last three starts in this series, has allowed six goals in his last five games.
Toronto's Phil Kessel has one goal and four assists in this season's two matchups, but he has one assist in his last three home games against Montreal.
The Canadiens made a deal Tuesday, acquiring right wing Michael Ryder and a third-round draft pick from Dallas for right wing Erik Cole. The 32-year-old Ryder has six goals and eight assists in 19 games this year.
The Associated Press News Service
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