NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Sunday, March 7th
(All times eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (20-32-12) at Philadelphia Flyers (33-26-4), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Philadelphia Flyers return to the Wachovia Center for
an important four-game homestand that begins with tonight's encounter with the
road-challenged Toronto Maple Leafs.
Philadelphia just completed a stretch of four consecutive road games with a
2-1-1 record, although the playoff contenders did end the trek with a pair of
losses. After being routed by Florida in a 7-4 defeat on Wednesday, the Flyers
couldn't hold onto a third-period lead in Friday's 3-2 overtime setback at
The Flyers had grabbed a 2-1 advantage on the Sabres when Mike Richards scored
unassisted off a Buffalo turnover with 8:58 left in regulation, but the hosts
tied the score on an Adam Mair goal nearly three minutes later. The Sabres
emerged victorious when Tim Connolly knocked home a rebound of Toni Lydman's
shot from the point midway through the extra session.
We definitely could have won this game. We played well," said Philadelphia
goaltender Michael Leighton. "Things just didn't bounce our way."
Leighton finished with 32 saves for Philadelphia, which also received a goal
from Simon Gagne in the loss.
Coming back to the Wachovia Center, where the Flyers have won three in a row
and nine of their last 11 outings, may help Philadelphia get back on track. So
could a matchup with the lowly Maple Leafs, who sit in the Eastern Conference
basement with 52 points and are a woeful 9-18-7 away from home this season.
Toronto did come through with a road victory on Saturday, however, after
besting rival Ottawa in a shootout by a 2-1 count. That ended a string of four
straight losses for the Maple Leafs, including a 3-2 shootout setback Thursday
in Boston in the opener of this current three-game trip.
Phil Kessel and Nikolai Kulemin each scored for Toronto in the deciding phase
of Saturday's triumph, with goaltender Jonas Gustavsson stoning both Ottawa
skaters he faced to help his team stop a seven-game road losing streak.
Gustavsson was also sharp in regulation and overtime, turning aside 22 of 23
shots prior to the shootout. Kessel, Toronto's leader with 22 goals this
season, accounted for the Leafs' only tally in regulation.
"It was a hard fought game out there," said Kessel afterward. "A lot of hits,
a lot of fights out there. We played well and got the two points and that's
the most important thing."
Toronto did not come away unscathed, however, as forwards John Mitchell and
Fredrik Sjostrom were both forced to exit Saturday's contest with upper-body
injuries and may not be available tonight.
Jean-Sebastian Giguere, who has posted a solid 2.31 goals against average and
two shutouts in six games since coming to the Leafs in a trade with Anaheim
last month, will likely be between the pipes for Toronto this evening. He'll
be facing a Philadelphia squad that's racked up a whopping 14 goals in its
last two matchups with Toronto held at the Wachovia Center, including a 6-2
win on January 6.
The Maple Leafs have lost in each of their past three trips to Philadelphia,
but did deal the Flyers a 4-0 loss in Ontario on January 14. Vesa Toskala, now
a member of the Calgary Flames, had 38 saves for Toronto in that one.
03/07 10:40:29 ET