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Leafs and Oilers set to battle

Saturday, 08.11.2003 / 8:30 AM / News
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Leafs and Oilers set to battle

GAME: Edmonton Oilers (5-5-2-0) at Toronto Maple Leafs (6-4-3-1).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Edmonton Oilers knew what they had in Janne Niinimaa. They are just beginning to learn what Raffi Torres and Brad Isbister are all about.

The Oilers will get another look at their young forwards when they continue their six-game road trip with a stop in Toronto to play the Maple Leafs.

Acquired at last season's trade deadline from the New York Islanders in exchange for rugged defenseman and team leader Niinimaa, Torres -- a 22-year-old left wing -- and Isbister -- an eight-year veteran with the tools to be an effective power winger -- are still trying to make their marks with the Oilers.

Torres has excelled in his limited ice time as he sits tied for the team lead with four goals, despite averaging a little more than nine minutes per night.

Isbister, however, has just two goals and four points and is a minus-2 in 11 games. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Isbister has the build and speed to be a force in the corners and in front of the net, yet he wore out his welcome with the Islanders because he never developed.

Isbister did score Edmonton's first goal Thursday in an eventual 3-3 tie in Ottawa. Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani scored 2:30 apart in the second period as the Oilers, winless in their previous three road games, improved to 1-0-1 on their trip and are unbeaten in four overall (2-0-2).

"I thought we battled pretty hard," Pisani said. "We got down early but we got some pucks to the net and guys going to the net, so we did a lot of good things out there."

The Maple Leafs extended their unbeaten streak to three (2-0-1) with a 1-1 tie at New Jersey on Friday. Gary Roberts scored on the power play with 4:42 to play.

The Leafs welcomed right wing Mikael Renberg back to the lineup, but played without No. 2 center Joe Nieuwendyk. Renberg had missed eight games with a pulled muscle in his chest, and Nieuwendyk continues to be bothered by back spasms.

Since joining the NHL in 1979-80, the Oilers have fared well against the Maple Leafs, leading the all-time series 37-32-8-1. They have outscored Toronto 328-286 in that span.

The Leafs lead the series in Toronto, 19-15-2.

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