Leafs hope to make it five straight at home
Wednesday, 12.16.2009 / 7:30 PM
NHL.com COYOTES (19-12-2) at MAPLE LEAFS (12-14-7)
: Phoenix 6-3-1; Toronto 7-3-0.
: This is the lone meeting between the teams this season. The Coyotes earned a 6-3 victory against the Leafs at Jobing.com Arena on Dec. 4, 2008, behind a hat trick from Martin Hanzal.
: After a 0-7-1 start, the Maple Leafs have managed to get themselves back into playoff contention. They'll enter Wednesday's action just two points behind the Montreal Canadiens, who are currently the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.
: After notching an impressive 2-1 win against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night, Phoenix hit a speed bump on Monday in a 3-2 loss at Detroit. The Coyotes fell behind 2-0 in the opening period and never really had their legs against the Red Wings, who were missing six regulars.
"For whatever reason, you have games that aren't your best games (and) you're not as sharp as you should be, and that was one of those games for us," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "Give Detroit credit. They worked hard. They played at a fast pace. We didn't match that."
: Vesa Toskala put forth another solid performance for Toronto on Monday night as he made 22 saves in the Leafs' 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators at the Air Canada Centre. It was Toronto's fourth straight victory on home ice after the team had only won twice in its first 12 games in the hockey Mecca.
"Vesa has done a great job recently and before Vesa, Jonas (Gustavsson) was making some big saves,'' Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "It's huge when you start to trust your goaltender, other things start to fall into place, you get more offensive opportunities. The defensemen aren't worried about making mistakes and, thereby, don't make as many, generally.''
: Coyotes forward Taylor Pyatt seems fully recovered from his preseason knee injury as he has five points (four goals) in his last six games. … Leafs center Phil Kessel
scored on Saturday night, giving him 12 goals in 21 games since returning from injury.
: Coyotes defenseman Kurt Sauer (neck) is out indefinitely. … Leafs defenseman Carl Gunnarsson
(elbow) and forward John Mitchell
(knee) are expected back next month, while blueliner Mike Van Ryn
(knee) is out for the season. Gustavsson is expected to dress for the first time on Wednesday since experiencing an irregular heartbeat during a game on Dec. 4.
: One reason why the Coyotes are off to such a successful start is due to the offensive production they've received from their defensemen. Ed Jovanovski's two assists give the club's blueliners 17 points (5 goals, 12 assists) in the last nine games.
: "We're getting close enough to that eighth-place line to realize where we've come from. We do want to make the playoffs this year, and to take our foot off of the gas right now would not be a wise choice." -- Leafs coach Ron Wilson