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Leafs looking to snap lengthy slide vs. Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Maybe a visit by the Toronto Maple Leafs is just what the Montreal Canadiens need to break a three-game losing streak.
The Canadiens, who host the Maple Leafs at Bell Centre on Saturday, have won 14 games in a row against Toronto.
It has been a shaky start to the season for the Canadiens, who won their opening game in a shootout against the Buffalo Sabres but scored just two goals in three losses since.
Montreal had 42 shots on goal in their home-opening 3-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, but only Tomas Plekanec beat Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford.
"There were a lot of looks. Of the four games, it was probably our best, but we're not looking for moral victories. We've got to win games," Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty said. "Three (losses) in a row is frustrating, especially when you can't put pucks in the net.
"That's what we're paid to do, so we have to find a way, and quickly."
The Leafs, who have 22 goals, one less than the NHL-leading Chicago Blackhawks, are coming off a 6-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday, Toronto's first loss of the season.
Toronto coach Mike Babcock said the Leafs' losing streak against the Canadiens doesn't mean anything to him.
"Zero for me," he said on TorontoMapleLeafs.com. "We're playing them (Saturday) and I'm jacked up to have the opportunity. Would we like to beat them? Yeah. When you tell me that, are we due? We're absolutely due. I think tomorrow's game is more important than anything that happened before."
Babcock, who was named coach of the Leafs May 20, 2015, has been behind the bench for eight of those losses, though after practice Friday he was told it was 10.
"I don't even know how many of those I've been involved in. I've obviously lost a whole bunch to Montreal since I've been here. I must have lost to them (eight) times then, have I? (Eight) straight. Holy mackerel. That would have hurt my feelings more if you said 'you're 0-(eight),'" he said.
Toronto defenseman Connor Carrick, who missed two games with an upper body injury, is expected to return to the lineup in place of Calle Rosen on the third pair with Andreas Borgman.
Maple Leafs goaltender Fredrik Anderson, who has a 1-3-1 record against the Canadiens, said the Leafs can't just depend on their scoring prowess.
"We've got some mistakes to clean up and we should be ready on Saturday," he said. "(The loss to the Devils) showed the talent won't always make up for the mistakes we make. We've got to learn to defend better."
This will be the 737th meeting between the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs (the only team Montreal has played more often is the Boston Bruins: 738 games). The Canadiens own a 218-102-43-5 record at home against Toronto.
Montreal coach Claude Julien said he is wary of the Leafs' speed.
"When you look at them, they are young and they are quick and they have a lot of energy and they come out and they really wear teams down," he said. "We have to make sure we're fresh and ready for these guys, but at the same time if you plan on playing on your heels against that team they'll eat you alive, so we are going to have to be on our toes. It's going to be us pushing them back with our speed, hopefully, and playing with a little bit more energy," Julien said.
Julien juggled his lines in practice and much of the focus has been on left wing Alex Galchenyuk, still looking for his first point of the season, who was dropped to the fourth line with Torey Mitchell and Alex Hemsky on Thursday. Galchenyuk did not practice Friday because of flu-like symptoms).
The Canadiens sent defensemen David Schlemko and Mark Streit to the Laval Rocket of the American Hockey League on Friday. Schlemko is on a conditioning stint and Streit cleared waivers.
Updated October 13, 2017