Leafs Take On Struggling Oilers
Wednesday, 12.30.2009 / 7:30 PM
MAPLE LEAFS (14-17-9) at OILERS (15-20-4)
: Toronto 4-4-2; Edmonton 3-7-0
: First of two meetings this season, with Edmonton paying a visit to Toronto in March. The road team came away with two points in both of last season's matchups. Tomas Kaberle
had a goal and two assists in a 5-2 win by the Maple Leafs on Nov. 13, 2008, and Kyle Brodziak scored twice for the Oilers in their 4-1 victory on March 7, 2009.
: If there's any team that knows how the Oilers feel right now, it's the Maple Leafs. Toronto got off to a horrendous start, losing eight straight games and 12 of 13 to begin the season, but has since turned things around to get back into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. Edmonton was battling for positioning in the West until its current seven-game losing streak sent the Oilers spiraling to the bottom of the standings.
: Rebounding from a tough overtime defeat to Montreal on home ice just 24 hours earlier, Toronto posted a character victory against defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh on Sunday. The Penguins fought back from three separate one-goal deficits to tie, but Leafs defenseman Ian White lit the lamp with 1:22 remaining for a 4-3 victory. The goal came just 53 seconds after Mike Rupp scored for the Penguins.
"I think we kept a quiet confidence after (Pittsburgh's tying goal)," White said. "We didn't get deflated -- and that's a pretty deflating time to get one scored against you. But we kept on pushing, had a couple more hard shifts, and it paid off."
: Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky learned Tuesday that he has been named to the preliminary roster for Slovakia in the upcoming Winter Olympics. At this point, Edmonton needs some sort of good news to celebrate. On the ice, the Oilers have managed just a single goal in each of their last three defeats, and have scored just 12 goals total during their current skid. They outshot the Flames 16-5 in the first period on Monday but came away with just a 1-1 tie in what became a 4-1 defeat.
"We should have put some of those in and then the sad thing is we give up a crappy goal at the end of the period," coach Pat Quinn said. "It was such a weak goal and it took the steam out of us a little bit.
"Until we have the mental strength to fight through something like that, that is what is going to happen. We're going to have to find a way to turn the corner and not give up the easy stuff."
: White has three goals in his last four games and Jason Blake has
scored in consecutive games for Toronto. Lee Stempniak had a goal and two assists in the win over Pittsburgh. ... Ryan Potulny had the lone goal in each of Edmonton's previous two games.
: Of the Leafs' injuries, only forward Viktor Stalberg (upper-body injury) is close to returning. Defenseman Mike Van Ryn
had left knee surgery and is out for the season, while defenseman Carl Gunnarsson
(hyperextended elbow) and forward John Mitchell
(knee) are also on injured reserve.
Oilers forward Ales Hemsky is out for the season following left shoulder surgery. Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin (back), defenseman Taylor Chorney (ankle) and forwards Mike Comrie (mononucleosis), Fernando Pisani (ulcerative colitis) and Marc Pouliot (sports hernia) are also on injured reserve.
: In games following overtime or shootout losses this season, Toronto has claimed 12 of a possible 20 points. ... Visnovsky has played in both the 2002 and 2006 Olympic Games, combining for two goals, five points and a plus-6 rating in nine games.
: There seems to be no end in sight for the Oilers' skid, but as the Leafs well know, one victory can sometimes be the springboard to get the season headed in the right direction.