Toronto defeats Montreal at the ACC.
The Toronto Maple Leafs took advantage of the downgraded version of the Montreal Canadiens to defeat them by a score of 4-2 saturday evening.
Jiri Tlusty and Anton Stralman both scored two goals, providing all of Toronto's scoring. Stralman's second goal, an unassisted effort, was scored on a dynamic end-to-end rush, finished by a wicked wrist shot.
The most costful for Montreal is the small general letdown that resulted in a number of minor injuries. Sometimes, playing to avoid injuries result in more injuries.
The Canadiens' head coach Guy Carbonneau had to juggle with his linuep all game long. To add to the difficulty level for him, Ryan O'Byrne has been ejected for elbowing an opponent during the early part of the first period. This ejection thinned the Habs' defensive roster. No Komisarek, no O'Byrne, no Streit were available for the coach.
But despite all the lineup turmoil, Guy Carbonneau was proactive and tried a new combination, something new that might spice up just right come playoff time. 20-year old rookie Sergei Kostitsyn was looking very good and at ease at the blue line during the man-advantages. He did not produce any on saturday, as Montreal only benefited of three man-advantages all game long. But rest assured that Sergei Kostitsyn will upgrade even more Montreal's power play volatility in the medium and long-term.
So Carbonneau sent Jaroslav Halak in the net, filling in for Carey Price. Halak gave an honest performance in the losing cause. The Habs had also to deal with the loss of Saku Koivu and Mark Streit, who were both injuried in Buffalo after receiving a shot in the ankle and foot area. Rumors spreaded around speculate as up as four weeks of inactivity for the captain. Saku Koivu's state is to be evaluated by doctors today in Montreal. Francis Bouillon has also been hit by a shot during the Habs-Leafs game, his situation is to be cleared also.
The Canadiens have now three games to play before the end of the regular season. With only a single point in one of those three games, Montreal will clinch the Northeast division title and a No1 or No2 seed in the Eastern conference.
(Picture: Jaroslav Halak, Canadian Press.)