NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, December 14th (All times eastern)
Ottawa Senators (16-11-4) at Toronto Maple Leafs (11-14-7), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Ottawa Senators will aim for a third straight victory when they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in another edition of the Battle of Ontario tonight at Air Canada Centre.
The Senators have won the first two meetings of the year against their provincial rivals, taking a game at home and on the road. Ottawa has won three of four overall in the series, but the Maple Leafs have won five of the last seven meetings on home ice.
Ottawa has won three of four games since suffering through its longest losing streak of the season, a four-game slide from November 28-December 5. The Senators have notched wins in their last two games against Philadelphia and Carolina, and Ottawa yielded just two goals over those outings.
After posting a 2-0 victory in Philly on Thursday, the Sens doubled up the visiting Hurricanes, 4-2, on Saturday. Alex Kovalev, mired in a 16-game goal- less drought, notched his first hat trick with the Senators and scored the game-winning tally to lead Ottawa.
Kovalev -- who now has 401 career goals -- recorded his first three-goal game since January 25, 2003 while with the Penguins, and Jason Spezza also scored for the Senators. It was Kovalev's 11th career hat trick.
Brian Elliot made 23 saves -- including 12 in the third -- to notch the victory.
"I thought for the first 40 minutes we played very well," said Ottawa coach Cory Clouston. "We didn't give up many opportunities and had eight or nine good scoring chances. Fortunately, our power play, which we criticized recently, scored twice tonight."
Ottawa is just 5-7-1 as the visiting team this year, but has won its last two away from Canada's capital city.
The Maple Leafs come into tonight having won three of four and five of their last seven games. Toronto kicked off a three-game homestand with an impressive win Saturday against the Eastern Conference-leading Washington Capitals.
Matt Stajan's second goal of the game proved to be the game-winner early in the third period, as Toronto posted a 6-3 win against the visiting Capitals.
Stajan finished with two scores and an assist while Phil Kessel had a goal and two helpers. Both players now have 11 goals on the season for the Maple Leafs, who recorded their third straight home win and improved to 5-7-3 at ACC this year.
"We're playing good hockey. It's been contagious throughout our lineup. We found a way to score a bunch of goals. The key was getting to the net, put traffic in front and we were burying the chances when we got them," said Stajan.
Alexei Ponikarovsky notched a goal and an assist while Niklas Hagman and Lee Stempniak also tallied in the win. Vesa Toskala was solid between the pipes with 34 saves.
Hagman and Mikhail Grabovski, who recorded two assists against the Caps, come into tonight riding six-game point streaks.
12/14 10:51:35 ET