Leafs Host Red-Hot Oilers
OILERS (21-26-5) at MAPLE LEAFS (27-19-6)
TV: RDSI (HD), SNET-W, SNET-0
Last 10: Edmonton 5-4-1; Toronto 5-4-1.
Season series: This is the first of two meetings between these cross-conference clubs. Toronto and Edmonton split the 2010-11 season series with each team getting a win on the road.
Big Story: While no player has been hotter than the Oilers' Sam Gagner over the last two games, it's the Maple Leafs that are in better shape as a team. Gagner jumped ahead of Wayne Gretzky on Saturday for the Oilers' team record with his 11th straight point, but Edmonton still has plenty of ground to make up to get back into the Western Conference playoff picture. Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs will try to extend their winning streak to three, while maintaining their eighth-place standing in the East. The visiting Oilers will attempt to grab their fourth straight win.
Oilers: An overall three-game winning streak has given the Oilers a spark, but, as of Sunday, the Western Canadian club sat seven points behind the West's 12th-place Phoenix Coyotes. However, coach Tom Renney and company will still try to put on a quality showing down the stretch if only to provide some confidence going into yet another off-season with likely no playoff showing.
A repeat performance of Saturday's 5-4 shootout win over Detroit would be much needed as Edmonton will try to break free of a current six-game road losing streak. Gagner tallied two power-play goals and an assist Saturday, but was not a factor in Jordan Eberle's game-tying fourth goal with just under 40 seconds left in regulation.
"It's a big win for us," Gagner told NHL.com after the game. "Especially the way we did it, coming back at the end. I knew I wasn't going to get another eight-point night. But even after the points kept coming our line was still creating."
Maple Leafs: With an aggregate score of 6-0 over its last two games, Toronto appears to be clicking at just the right moment. But the Leafs are far from in the clear as they will have to fight off the recently upstart 9th-place Washington Capitals as well as continuing to battle with a number of teams all sitting within reach above them in the standings.
Continued strong performances from their goaltenders will need to occur if the Leafs are to maintain their playoff position in the East. James Reimer has been up to the task with 74 saves over consecutive shutouts.
"We did what we needed to a couple of nights ago in Pittsburgh and here again tonight," Reimer said following the Leafs' 5-0 win over Ottawa on Saturday. "Right from the get-go I thought we played real smart, honest hockey."
Who's Hot: Gagner is in the midst of a three-game point streak with 6 goals and 6 assists over that span. ... Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak both had a goal and 2 assists in the win at Ottawa on Saturday.
Injury Report: The Leafs' Darryl Boyce (back spasms) has missed the last eight games. ... Now that forward Ryan-Nugent Hopkins (shoulder) returned to the lineup Saturday, the Oilers should boast a fully healthy lineup Monday.
Stat Pack: Gagner's 11 points over the last two games jumped him from 200th place on this season's NHL scoring leaders list to 90, as of Sunday night's games.
Puck Drop: It's always a time to celebrate when a player totals 11 points over two games, but it couldn't have come at a better time for the struggling Gagner. The fifth-year forward had just 22 points through 43 games before the hot streak.
"I'm just feeling way better about how I am playing. I want the puck. I want to be the guy," Gagner told reporters after Saturday's shootout win.