NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, December 30th (All times eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (14-17-9) at Edmonton Oilers (15-20-4), 9:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Maple Leafs have put a horrid start behind them and are now thinking playoffs. The Pat Quinn-coached Oilers, meanwhile, are trying to stop the free-fall that has followed their longest winning streak of the season.
Toronto, just three points back of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, will try to deal Edmonton an eighth straight loss tonight in a matchup at Rexall Place that marks Quinn's first against his old club since it fired him following the 2005-06 season.
Despite beginning the season 1-7-5, the Maple Leafs now stand 14-17-9 on the season and 14th in the conference. Looking to return to the postseason for the first time in five seasons, they hope that a big win over one of the Eastern Conference's powerhouses will spark a winning run.
Toronto halted a three-game slide with a 4-3 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday. Just 53 seconds after the Penguins tied the game late, Ian White beat Marc- Andre Fleury high from the right circle with 1:22 remaining in the third to secure the big two points for the Maple Leafs.
"Most butterfly goalies leave the corners uncovered, and if you can find a way to find it, you will generally score," White said.
White also had an assist, while Lee Stempniak notched a goal and two helpers. Luke Schenn and Jason Blake also notched goals for the Maple Leafs, who snapped a four-game road skid in the opener of a three-game trip.
Vesa Toskala made 21 saves in the victory.
Toronto, aiming to win consecutive games for the first time since December 12-14, will get its first look at Quinn since his firing. The coach was let go after Toronto failed to make the postseason following the 2005-06 season and was replaced by Paul Maurice.
However, the Maple Leafs are now under the guidance of Ron Wilson and still haven't reached the playoffs since letting Quinn go. Quinn, meanwhile, went 300-196-26 with 52 ties in his seven seasons as Toronto's coach, getting them to the playoffs six times and to the Eastern Conference finals twice. He hadn't coached in the NHL since being let go by Toronto until joining the Oilers prior to this season, replacing Craig MacTavish.
Quinn's club looked to be turning things around with a season-best five-game winning streak, but is now on its longest slide of the year. The Oilers were dealt a seventh loss in a row on Monday, a 4-1 setback versus the Flames. Ryan Potulny scored the game's first goal, but Jeff Deslauriers was bested four times on 23 shots.
Edmonton is on its longest losing streak since a franchise-record 12-game slide from February 25-March 21, 2007.
"You have to come to the rink every day ready to get better," said Potulny. "You kind of go back to the basics, go home look at yourself in the mirror and say what can I do to make this team better, and do what you can do, and if everybody does that we'll get it going."
Having not won since December 11, the Oilers are last in the West with 34 points -- 13 points out of a playoff spot -- and have also dropped seven straight at home. Edmonton hasn't won as the host since November 23.
The Maple Leafs have won five of their last seven versus the Oilers overall, though the teams split two meetings last year. Each team won once on enemy ice, with Toronto notching a 5-2 triumph at Edmonton on November 13, 2008 for its second straight win at Rexall Place.
12/30 10:55:22 ET