NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, March 16th
(All times eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (23-34-12) at Ottawa Senators (37-27-5), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Ottawa Senators have found it hard to recapture their
earlier success upon returning from the Olympic break. The playoff hopefuls
hope a visit from the Eastern Conference's last-place team will help end those
The slumping Senators head back to Scotiabank Place tonight to take on the
Toronto Maple Leafs in a showdown between Northeast Division foes.
Ottawa had been on fire prior to the NHL's stoppage for the Vancouver Games,
ripping off 14 wins in its final 16 contests before the shutdown. The Senators
haven't been the same since play resumed, however, going 1-4-1 in their first
six outings of March.
The Sens did open a three-game tour of Western Canada with a 4-1 triumph over
doormat Edmonton on March 9, but followed with disappointing results in both
Calgary and Vancouver. After being shut out by the Flames on Thursday, Ottawa
was dominated on both ends of the ice in a 5-1 defeat to the Canucks in
Saturday's finale of the trip.
Vancouver outshot the Senators 17-2 in the first period and by a 35-14 margin
for the game, and converted 2-of-6 power-play opportunities in addition to
recording a short-handed goal.
"Not a whole lot to say about that effort," a frustrated Ottawa head coach
Cory Clouston said afterward. "We weren't ready to go. [The Canucks] played
like it was a playoff game and we weren't ready to step our game up."
Jason Spezza netted the lone Senators' goal, while goaltender Pascal Leclaire
made 30 saves in a losing cause.
Ottawa now trails Buffalo by three points for first place in the Northeast,
but still stands fifth in the Eastern Conference standings despite its current
The Senators will try to bounce back in this evening's bout with the lowly
Leafs, whose 58 total points trail only Edmonton for the lowest amount in the
league. Toronto has taken the last three meetings between the divisional
rivals, however, including a 2-1 shootout decision at Scotiabank Place on
That victory started off a 4-1-0 stretch for the Maple Leafs, although they
couldn't sustain that momentum in Sunday's 4-1 road loss to the New York
Nikolai Kulemin did have a goal for Toronto to extend his personal scoring
streak to five games, with the Russian wing having compiled seven points (4
goals, 3 assists) over that span.
The defeat was the ninth in the past 10 road games for the Leafs, with the
March 6 verdict over the Senators their only win during that period. Toronto
has been one of the NHL's worst teams away from home this season, bringing a
poor 9-20-7 mark as the visitor into tonight's tilt.
Ottawa is a strong 23-13-4 on home ice thus far in 2009-10, but has lost three
of its five previous matchups with the Maple Leafs this season as well as six
of the past nine overall meetings in this series.
03/16 10:43:29 ET