Road-weary Habs return home to face Toronto
The Montreal Canadiens return to the friendly confines of the Bell Centre on Saturday night, hoping to snap a two-game slide when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs in game two of a triple-header on Hockey Night in Canada (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 6:30 p.m. ET).
Winners of four straight at home, the Habs (6-7-0) have had little luck on the road, as they've dropped their past five away games. Their latest trip through Pittsburgh and Chicago left them 6-1 and 3-2 losers, adding to a rather unbalanced nine goals for and 23 against while on the road.
In the latest game against the Blackhawks, Montreal rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game in the middle frame thanks to goals from Mike Cammalleri and Travis Moen. Chicago right wing Patrick Sharp put the boots to that comeback, though, with a late goal in the third.
"We started doing some things right and it paid off for a short period of time, but not the whole game," Cammalleri told the Canadiens' official website.
The free-agent acquisition has done his part for the team, racking up five goals and three assists in the last five home games. Another current star was less heralded at season's start: Backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak has been getting regular minutes and was in goal each game in their current home streak.
The Habs will welcome a visit from the team with the league's worst record, and one of only two teams they've had success against when away from La Belle Province.
The Maple Leafs (1-7-3) were tagged for a 4-3 OT loss to Montreal in the season opener for both squads, and since that game on Oct. 1, there hasn't been a whole lot for the Leafs to cheer about. They are the remaining NHL team with a solitary win and have led a game after two periods just once in 11 tries.
However, they have gotten points for trying — picking up a point in their last three games while awaiting the return of their key off-season pickup, Phil Kessel.
The winger has come off the injured reserve list and is listed as day-to-day. His return is expected on Nov. 3 when Toronto plays Tampa Bay, but he could appear in the lineup in Montreal.
They could have used Kessel in Buffalo on Friday, where the team let a win slip away versus the Sabres in overtime.
"We're doing a lot of things well," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "If we keep doing this, the results are going to be there. We have to keep persevering."
Toronto goalie Vesa Toskala, out for the past two weeks with a knee injury, is expected to back up current starter Jonas Gustavsson in Montreal.
With files from The Associated Press