Playoff Push Continues On Long Island
Tuesday, 03.8.2011 / 9:31 AM ET / News
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MAPLE LEAFS (29-28-9) at ISLANDERS (25-32-10)
TV: SNET-O, MSG Plus.
Last 10: Toronto 6-1-3; New York 4-3-3.
Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. The Leafs are 2-0-1 against the Isles, with both of those victories coming in February.
Big Story: The Leafs have played better as of late with six wins in their last 10 games. Their recent play has allowed them to stay in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, as they'll enter Tuesday's game against the Islanders just five points behind No. 8 Buffalo. Toronto is 10-3-4 since the All-Star break.
"Some days, you get it down to three (points) and you think you might get it to one, then you lose and the other team wins," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said after Monday's practice. You just focus on the next shift, the next period and try to do the best you can."
Maple Leafs: While their opponent on Tuesday has the third-fewest points (60) in the League, the Leafs know beating the Islanders will be no easy task. Forty-five of New York's points have come since Dec. 15 (20-14-5), the third-most in the Eastern Conference behind only Boston (47) and New Jersey (46).
"You look at their record … it's as good as ours since the All-Star break," Wilson said. "We're going to have to be on our toes. They're loosey-goosey right now. The games don't have the same meaning probably to the Islanders at the moment as they do to us, so the pressure's on us. But we've handled that pretty well so far. We've got to be ready. They're a good, fast-skating team. They have an awful lot of skill up front that they don't get credit for."
Islanders: New York is coming off a highly-successful weekend that saw it tally three of a possible four points. After disposing of the St. Louis Blues by a 5-2 score on Saturday, the Isles rallied twice against the Devils before suffering a 3-2 shootout loss at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
"I think these guys were 19-2-2 in the last 23 games, so I think we gave them a really good game," forward PA Parenteau said of New Jersey. "We played as hard as we could and we didn't give them much. (Al Montoya) played well. We were as patient as we should be against these guys. As far as a statement, I think it was a positive one."
Who's Hot: Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul has three goals in his last five games. … Isles winger Blake Comeau has three goals in as many games and now has 18 this season, a career-high. Montoya has a 1.93 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in 10 games (eight starts) since he was acquired in early February from Phoenix.
Injury Report: Leafs forward Colton Orr (head) is out indefinitely. … The Islanders will be without defensemen Mark Streit (shoulder), Mark Eaton (hip), Mike Mottau (hip), Radek Martinek (lower body), forwards Doug Weight (back) and Trent Hunter (knee) and goaltenders Rick DiPietro (facial fractures, knee swelling) and Kevin Poulin (knee).
Stat Pack: Prior to Saturday's 5-3 loss to Chicago, the Maple Leafs participated in nine consecutive one-goal games. It ended the longest stretch of tight contests since the Philadelphia Flyers in 2005-06 and matched the Toronto club record from March of 2003, which included three wins, three losses and three ties.
Puck Drop: "We're a team that has to work for everything we get. We're not, by any means, a high-powered explosive team. It's nice to see we can battle back, but we're not giving ourselves any kind of pat on the back right now. We have a long way to go." -- Toronto defenseman Luke Schenn