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Canadiens-Maple Leafs Preview

Saturday, 10.06.2007 / 7:00 PM

Associated Press

The Montreal Canadiens were the best power-play team in the NHL last season, and in their first game of 2007-08, they showed no signs of letting up.

The Canadiens will be looking to take advantage of the Maple Leafs' penalty kill Saturday when the rivals square off in Toronto.

Montreal (1-0-0) led the league in power-play percentage last season, converting 22.8 percent of its chances. The Canadiens power-play unit picked up where it let off in Wednesday's season opener, scoring all of the team's goals with the man advantage in a 3-2 overtime win over Carolina.

Saku Koivu, who ranked third on the team last season with 11 power-play goals, had two against the Hurricanes.

"Today it worked," Koivu said of the power-play unit. "We don't want to get too ahead of ourselves ... (but) the power play is a big part. Just don't expect us to score three power-play goals every game. It is a good start. If you can chip in once in a while with the power plays, it's going to make your job a little bit easier."

Now, the Canadiens will be trying to take advantage of a Toronto team that struggled against the man advantage last season. The Maple Leafs (0-1-1) killed off only 78.5 percent of their opponents' power-play chances, ranking 27th in the NHL.

Toronto allowed two power-play goals on 10 chances in Thursday's 3-2 loss in Ottawa. The Maple Leafs have dropped each of their first two games, both against the Senators.

Montreal scored eight power-play goals in 35 chances against Toronto last season, a 22.9 percent conversion rate. However, the Maple Leafs were even better with the power- play, scoring 13 goals on 43 chances, a 30.2 percent rate.

This season, Toronto has failed to score on 14 power-play chances.

Mats Sundin and Matt Stajan scored goals 32 seconds apart for Toronto in Thursday's defeat. Sundin's goal was his 389th with the Maple Leafs, tying Darryl Sittler's franchise record.

Vesa Toskala made his Maple Leafs debut after being acquired in the offseason and stopped 26 shots. He looked sharp after going 0-3-0 with a 4.69 goals-against average and an .854 save percentage in the preseason.

Coach Paul Maurice has not announced whether Toskala or Andrew Raycroft, who gave up four goals in Wednesday's 4-3 overtime loss, would start against the Canadiens.

Mark Streit also scored and Andrei Markov had two assists Wednesday for Montreal, which won its first game for the 48th time since joining the NHL in 1917. The Canadiens have gone on to reach the playoffs after 43 of their previous 47 season-opening victories.

"Obviously, you build confidence with every win and when you play a tough team like them, it is a good thing," Koivu said.

The Canadiens and Maple Leafs just missed the playoffs last season. Montreal was 10th in the Eastern Conference, two points out of the eighth and final playoff spot, while Toronto was one point ahead of the Canadiens with 91.

2007-2008 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 05 '08TOR 1 at MTL 3C. Higgins
Mar 29 '08MTL 2 at TOR 4J. Tlusty
Feb 07 '08TOR 4 at MTL 2K. Wellwood
Dec 15 '07TOR 1 at MTL 4S. Koivu
Nov 27 '07MTL 4 at TOR 3 - SOA. Kostitsyn
Nov 13 '07MTL 4 at TOR 3 - OTM. Komisarek
Nov 03 '07TOR 3 at MTL 2M. Stajan
Oct 06 '07MTL 3 at TOR 4 - OTT. Kaberle
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