COYOTES (18-10-5) vs. MAPLE LEAFS (17-16-3)
TV: TSN, FS-A
Last 10: Phoenix 4-5-1; Toronto 3-7-0
Season series: The Phoenix Coyotes and Toronto Maple Leafs play for the first time this season. Patrick O'Sullivan and Radim Vrbata scored shootout goals to lead the Coyotes to a 3-2 win against the Maple Leafs on Nov. 15, 2011 at Air Canada Centre.
Big story: Maple Leafs forward Mason Raymond was blunt in his assessment of a 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, Toronto's fifth in six games and 11th in its past 15. The Panthers' win lifted them to within six points of the Leafs in the Eastern Conference.
"We simply got embarrassed," Raymond said. "It's pretty simple. I don't think guys can be happy with that at all. We got embarrassed at home. I think we got beat out all over the ice in almost all situations. It's something we need to improve."
The biggest problem for the Maple Leafs has been playing from behind; the loss Tuesday was the 17th time in 36 games that an opponent scored first. Toronto's record in those situations is 4-11-1. Conversely, the Leafs are 13-5-2 when scoring first.
"Our starts need to be better," Raymond said. "That's a big part of it. I think stats show when you score the first goal odds are in your favor to win the game."
Coyotes: Despite outshooting the Montreal Canadiens 15-3 in the first period of their game Tuesday, the Coyotes could not generate any momentum in a 3-1 loss in which they were 0-for-4 on the power play.
''We made mistakes, took some bad penalties,'' center Mike Ribeiro said. ''Special units are part of the game, and if you can't get them to click, oftentimes you'll lose the game.
''It's disappointing. It's part of the game, but you can't take that and be happy about it. You need to grind it out and be stronger.''
The loss dropped the Coyotes to ninth place in the competitive Western Conference, where points will be precious all season.
Maple Leafs: Toronto's loss Tuesday was the 12th time in 13 games it allowed three goals or more. Coach Randy Carlyle believed fatigue played a role -- the Maple Leafs played the second of a back-to-back and third game in four days -- but the players refused to accept any alibi.
"There's never an excuse: Injuries, tired, it's all [nonsense]," goalie James Reimer said. "Those are all excuses. They're useless."
Who's hot: Coyotes left wing Mikkel Boedker has three goals and an assist in his past four games, and 10 goals and 22 points in 33 games. … Raymond scored the Maple Leafs' lone goal Tuesday to give him six points in his past four games and 25 points in 36 games.
Injury report: Coyotes right wing Shane Doan (illness) remains out of the lineup, while left wing Lauri Korpikoski (upper body) is on injured reserve … Maple Leafs center Trevor Smith (broken hand), center Dave Bolland (left ankle surgery), right wing Colton Orr (bruised elbow) and center Tyler Bozak (strained oblique) are on injured reserve. Defenseman Paul Ranger (upper body) is questionable for Thursday.
Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNHL
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