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Improved Leafs and slumping Habs ready to renew rivalry

Montreal Canadiens' goalie Carey Price keeps his eyes on the puck during first period NHL hockey action against Boston Bruins in Montreal, February 6, 2013.

Christinne Muschi/REUTERS

Is it too early in the season to be talking about revenge?

The Montreal Canadiens lost their opening home game of the season to the Toronto Maple Leafs  - a tightly-fought 2-1 affair on Jan. 19 – and are looking to avoid a three-game losing slide on Saturday evening against their old foe (7 p.m., CBC, RDS).

The Habs (6-2-1) were kicking themselves after their opening loss, in which all the goals were scored on the power-play, and badly want to avoid giving up the ground gained during a four-game win streak earlier in the season.

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The 6-5 Leafs, meanwhile, are looking to post a third straight win for the first time this season.

The mathematical symmetry doesn't end there.

This is a game that pits a team that has won five games at home (which ties the league high) against a team that has won five on the road (third-best in the NHL).

Carey Price, whose streak of six straight wins was snapped by Boston earlier in the week, will take the net for the Habs, it's expected James Reimer will be in the cage for Toronto.

Montreal's Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Markov are tied for the team scoring lead, Plekanec has scored three times in his last two games.

On Toronto's side of the ledger, sniper Phil Kessel scored his long-awaited first goal of the season on Thursday.

One man who assuredly won't be playing in Saturday's tilt is Montreal centre Ryan White, whose ill-advised double-minor against Buffalo on Thursday cost his team a win – the Sabres drew to 4-3 on the power-play as a result and later won in a shootout.

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Beyond that, the lineups are expected to be the same as the last game for both teams – the Leafs are coming off consecutive 3-2 triumphs on the road in Washington and Winnipeg.

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About the Author
National Correspondent

Sean Gordon joined the Globe's Quebec bureau in 2008 and covers the Canadiens, Alouettes and Impact, as well as Quebec's contingent of Olympic athletes. More


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