Leafs Wrap Up Season Against Canadiens
MAPLE LEAFS (35-36-10) at CANADIENS (30-35-16)
TV: CBC (HD)
Last 10: Toronto 4-4-2; Montreal 2-3-5
Season Series: This is the series and season finale for two teams who have a long and frustrating off-season to look forward to. The Maple Leafs won three of the first five meetings this season, including the most recent one on March 3. That night, Erik Cole opened the scoring before former Canadien Mikhail Grabovski scored twice in the third period to give the Leafs a 3-1 win.
Big Story: This game may have implications only for next week's Draft Lottery, but that doesn't mean it will be lacking for passion and excitement -- not with two of the NHL's oldest rivals on the same rink.
Maple Leafs: The Randy Carlyle era in Toronto began March 2 following the firing of coach Ron Wilson, and the Leafs responded the following night with their 3-1 win in Montreal before proceeding to go 3-8-2 under their new coach. But the Leafs have since picked up their play, gaining five of a possible six points in their last three games.
That run includes Thursday night's game in Toronto against the Lightning, when the Leafs overcame a pair of one-goal deficits before captain Dion Phaneuf's overtime goal gave them a 3-2 win.
"We struggled at home for a while, no one was happy about it. We have not been playing the way that we want to play," said Phaneuf, who has just three points in his last 15 games. "But we wanted to finish our year off, our last game at home in front of our fans, the way we [did]."
Canadiens: After closing out the month of March with a 1-3-4 record, Montreal got back on the winning track with an impressive 5-2 win over the Lightning on Wednesday in which they shut down Stamkos. They played again the following night in Raleigh but lost 2-1 in a shootout.
"We have to get ready to give 100% in our last game now. There's nothing else to save it for," goaltender Peter Budaj, who is expected to make his fourth consecutive start in place of injured Carey Price, told the team's website.
Who's Hot: Toronto's Tim Connolly has three points in his last four games while Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel both have four points in their last three games. … For Montreal, Max Pacioretty has four points in his last three games and Erik Cole has four goals in his last five games.
Injury Report: Toronto is missing Joffrey Lupul (separated shoulder), James Reimer (upper body), Nikolai Kulemin (broken finger), and Carl Gunnarsson (separated shoulder) while Jonas Gustavsson and Grabovski are both questionable with lower-body injuries. … Price (concussion) has been shut down for the remainder of the season while Yannick Weber (lower body), Brian Gionta (bicep surgery), Mathieu Darche (upper body), Travis Moen (upper body), Scott Gomez (concussion), and Raphael Diaz (lower body) are all on IR.
Stat Pack: The Leafs and Canadiens have closed out the season against one another in four of the last five seasons, with Montreal boasting a 2-1-1 advantage in those matchups. Gionta has led the offensive charge the past two seasons, with three goals in the last two Montreal-Toronto season finales.
Puck Drop: Both teams have been led in the crease lately by unlikely sources. Since being called up last week, Ben Scrivens has gone 2-0-1 for the Leafs, making 103 saves in those three games. Budaj hasn't been too shabby either since Price was shut down for the season, starting the last three games and going 1-0-2 with a .936 save percentage.