Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens Preview
MONTREAL, Quebec (AP) - James Reimer has been stellar in net lately for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Montreal Canadiens' Carey Price has been even more impressive at the Bell Centre against the Maple Leafs this season.View Current Toronto Maple Leafs Odds
Price might have the opportunity to try to post a third consecutive home shutout against Toronto on Thursday night.
Maple Leafs goaltender and Montreal native Jean-Sebastien Giguere is day-to-day with a lower-body ailment. Jonas Gustavsson is also on a conditioning stint after undergoing a heart ablation procedure.
According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL.com have made the Canadiens -145 money line favorites for Thursday's game against the Maple Leafs. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 61% of more than 245 bets for this game have been placed on the Canadiens -145.
With Reimer's help, Toronto (26-27-7) has fared well despite their absences, going 7-2-2 in its 11 games this month to move closer toward playoff contention.
"We're going in feeling good about ourselves, but it's probably going to be a low-scoring game (against Montreal)," coach Ron Wilson said. "We're going to need solid goaltending from James. ... We haven't scored a goal in Montreal this year. We're going to have to find a way to crack Carey."
The Maple Leafs rookie is 4-0-2 with a 1.72 goals-against average in his last six appearances and stopped 29 shots in a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders on Tuesday. Reimer is 9-4-2 with a 2.12 GAA this season but hasn't faced the Canadiens.
"Every day, I keep getting surprised by something. It's been fun," Reimer said. "I'm just trying to enjoy the ride. We're getting close to the playoffs here, so hopefully we can keep winning."
Price handed Wilson's club one of its few recent losses by stopping 27 shots in a 3-0 victory Feb. 12, but gave up nine goals over three subsequent defeats. Among those was a 4-0 loss to host Calgary in Sunday's Heritage Classic.
He bounced back with a 3-2 win over the NHL's top team, Vancouver, on Tuesday night. The British Columbia native made 12 of his 37 saves in the third period.
"I really wanted that puck. That was the only one I've wanted all year," Price said. "I've watched the Canucks my whole life being from B.C., and getting an opportunity to play against them and actually win here is pretty special."
The Canadiens (32-22-7) also seemed to benefit from a lineup change after posting one win in their previous seven games (1-4-2). They had scored 16 times during that stretch but three different lines accounted for the goals Tuesday.
David Desharnais and Brian Gionta scored 67 seconds apart early in the first period, and Andrei Kostitsyn added a pivotal goal midway through the second, ending a 12-game drought despite being dropped to the fourth line.
"Obviously things had gotten stale," Gionta said.
Gionta has one of the eight goals Montreal has scored against Toronto this season, with Michael Cammalleri and Jeff Halpern tallying two apiece.
The Canadiens could use some more scoring as they've dropped three of four at home, including two losses coming via shootouts. Montreal was 15-3-3 in its previous 21 games at the Bell Centre.
The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, have an opportunity to win three straight on the road for the second time this season. They had a season-best, five-game win streak there Dec. 26-Jan. 11.
Phil Kessel, who has scored four goals in the past four games, has three in his last six matchups with the Canadiens.
Toronto and Montreal have split their four overall matchups this season.