Being opportunistic with the man advantage this season has the Montreal Canadiens contending in the Northeast Division.
The Canadiens (7-2-3) will try to continue their strong special teams play on Saturday night when they welcome the Toronto Maple Leafs (5-6-3) to the Bell Centre for the first time in 2007-08.
Montreal was fourth in the league last season with 86 power-play goals, including four in as many home games versus Toronto. The Canadiens went 3-0-1 when hosting the Maple Leafs in 2006-07, with each of the four games decided by one goal.
On Oct. 6, Montreal went 0-for-6 on the power play in a 4-3 overtime loss at Toronto. That contest is one of only two this season in which the Canadiens were held without a power-play tally, the other being a 3-1 home loss to Carolina on Oct. 13 in which they went 0-for-4.
Aside from those defeats, Montreal has converted a league-best 21 man-advantage opportunities in just 58 chances. Ten Canadiens have scored power-play goals this season, led by Alex Kovalev with five and Saku Koivu and Tomas Plekanec with three each,
Montreal, which trails Northeast-leading Ottawa by three points, earned its fifth win in six games Thursday with a 5-2 victory over Philadelphia. Koivu had a goal and an assist in the win over the top team from the Atlantic Division and said an up-tempo start was key to the victory.
“I thought tonight we had the jump and we played our style,” said Koivu, who leads Montreal with 10 assists and 14 points. “We kept the tempo, we didn’t turn the puck over at all and it seemed that we were able to create some offense, get the puck deep in their zone and get the cycle going. It was a good game.”
Koivu has two goals and six assists during a five-game point streak. He also has had at least one point in each of Montreal’s last six home wins over Toronto, including four goals in the last three games.
Cristobal Huet made 17 saves against the Flyers to improve to 3-1-1 with a 1.58 goals-against average this season. He’s perfect in his career at home against the Maple Leafs, posting a 3-0-0 record with a 1.95 GAA.
Sundin’s goal was his first on the road since Oct. 4 at Ottawa. He had a goal and two assists in four games last season at Montreal.
Vesa Toskala made 18 saves in the loss. He stopped 25 shots in last month’s win over the Canadiens in his first career start against them.
Andrew Raycroft has started just twice since Oct. 15, allowing five goals each in losses to Buffalo and Chicago. He is only 1-1-3 with a 3.24 GAA in six career starts against the Canadiens.