|Longtime rivals Leafs, Canadiens to lock horns|
After defeating the San Jose Sharks with a flurry of late goals at home Friday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Montreal Canadiens Saturday night on a positive note.
The Canadiens, meanwhile, lost 4-2 to the Sharks on Thursday night and are concerned about their ability to kill penalties as they face their long-time rivals from Toronto.
The Canadiens allowed the Sharks to go 2-for-3 on the power play Thursday. Montreal has allowed 11 power-play goals in 10 games, which is ranked 30th in the NHL in penalty-killing with a 67.6 percent success rate. The Canadiens spent much of Friday's practice working on their penalty-killing units.
"It's frustrating, but it's something we can correct," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. "That's what we tried to do. I'm confident that we'll improve that aspect of our game. It's a question of everyone doing their job, and doing it the right way."
The Maple Leafs entered Friday tied for ninth with the Canadiens on the power play, going 8 of 32 (25 percent). The power play did not work well Friday against the Sharks as the Maple Leafs went 0 for 5 with the man advantage in a tight game.
The game was 1-1 before Morgan Rielly put the Maple Leafs ahead with a goal with 5:29 remaining in the third period. Toronto added two goals in the final minute, one with the San Jose net empty.
The Maple Leafs have three players with two power-play goals each this season -- Mitch Marner, Andreas Johnsson and Auston Matthews.
"We know it's a division rival and it's a big game," Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry said. "They have a good power play over there, and it's a chance for us to show that we all are back on the same page and we know what we need to do. We obviously don't want to take a lot of penalties against them."
"Five-on-five we're scoring goals and we're scoring more than we're giving up," Julien added. "At the end of the day, the other part I don't like, I don't like being .500 (4-4-2 ). ... So, finding ways to win is important, and I think if our penalty kill gets better, it will increase our chances of winning."
The Maple Leafs had some concern Friday when Matthews missed the second half of the second period for concussion protocol after taking a stiff check. He returned for the third period, however, and scored the final goal of the game.
Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said at first he did not understand why Matthews was removed from the game.
"No, I couldn't understand why he'd leave, and then when I saw the hit -- because I didn't see it, and then I saw the hit in-between periods," Babcock said. "So, I said, 'OK, I guess that's why they made him leave.' "
The Maple Leafs had lost their previous two games, one in overtime.
"I thought that we were motivated," Rielly said. "I think that we wanted to come out and have a good effort. I think when you look back at our past couple games, there's room for improvement here. ... We're aware of that, we talked about that and have been pretty open about that. I thought we came in, and I thought we had a good attitude this morning. You know, lots of energy and I thought it carried over."
--Field Level Media