Leafs Look To Snap Skid Against Oilers
TV: LEAFS TV, SNET-West
LAST 10: Toronto 5-4-1; Edmonton 5-4-1
Season Series: This is the second and final of two meetings this season. Nine days ago, Toronto doubled up the Oilers 6-3 at Air Canada Centre to cap a three-game winning streak.
Big Story: After playing spoiler to one Eastern playoff team by winning Saturday in Ottawa, Edmonton is home for a three-game swing looking to do it again against tottering Toronto. The Maple Leafs are clinging to the eighth seed following four straight losses, the latest a 5-1 defeat Tuesday night in Calgary.
Maple Leafs: Matters have gone from bad to worse of late for Toronto. One-goal losses last week to Philadelphia and Winnipeg have given way to blowout defeats to Montreal and Calgary. The Canadiens embarrassed Toronto on Saturday, dealing a 5-0 defeat on the night the Leafs honored franchise points leader Mats Sundin. Things weren't much better in Calgary on Tuesday, where Toronto's top line of Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak combined for just one goal while the team fired 42 shots. Toronto pressed near the end, a strategy that resulted in goalie Jonas Gustavsson conceding two late goals.
"That's how the game's going to be when we have to gamble a bit," Gustavsson said. "It doesn't really matter in the end if you lose 3-1 or 5-1. At least we gave it a chance to come back."
Oilers: The Sam Gagner party ended - and with it Edmonton's playoff chances - when Edmonton lost two in a row to start a three-game road trip last week. But the Oilers' potent attack is still capable of stealing wins from contenders, as witnessed on Saturday, when Edmonton finished its trip with a 4-3 overtime win in Ottawa. After Erik Karlsson tied it for Ottawa midway through the third period, Taylor Hall ended it with a backhand just 17 seconds into the extra period.
"We had some time to think about the mistakes we made on the first few games of this road trip," Hall said. "Tonight was a good night for us. We knew Ottawa was going to come out strong and we kind of weathered the storm, got our bearings and just went from there."
Who's Hot: While his line is struggling, Kessel continues to rack up points -- he has four goals and six assists over his last six games.
Injury Report: Toronto defenseman Carl Gunnarsson (ankle) is on injured reserve. … For Edmonton, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will miss at least another week with a sprained shoulder. Corey Potter is doubtful for the game with a groin injury, while fellow blueliner Theo Peckham (facial injury) is expected to be activated from injured reserve on Wednesday.
Stat Pack: While the Oilers have won just seven games on the road, their 15-8-3 record at Rexall Place is nothing to scoff at. To improve that mark, Nikolai Khabibulin must be more dependable. He has conceded 11 goals in his last three games, and his 2.52 goals-against average for the season ranks just 23 rd in the League.
Puck Drop: After Tuesday's loss at Scotiabank Saddledome - where there were large pockets of blue in the usual sea of red -- Toronto coach Ron Wilson expressed his regret.
"I'm kind of disappointed we let them down," he said. "There's a huge Leaf contingent."