NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, January 11th
(All times eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (17-20-4) at San Jose Sharks (21-17-5), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Toronto Maple Leafs haven't won in San Jose in nearly
14 years, but given its recent road success and the Sharks' current offensive
struggles, they are visiting HP Pavilion at the perfect time.
The Maple Leafs aim for a fifth straight road win tonight and look to deal the
struggling Sharks a fifth consecutive defeat both overall and at home.
Toronto's current run of road success includes a victory in the first two
contests of a four-game road trip. The Maple Leafs opened the swing with a
blowout 6-3 victory in Atlanta on Friday before posting a 3-2 victory in Los
Angeles last night.
James Reimer came up big in net for the Leafs, finishing with 30 saves and
stopping all 17 shots faced in the final period. That includes standing tall
during a 6-on-4 disadvantage over the game's final 1:42.
"[Reimer] was outstanding all night," said current Leafs coach and former
Sharks bench boss Ron Wilson. "Every time we needed a whistle, he's cool and
calm, doesn't give up very many rebounds ... He did a great job."
Darryl Boyce and Phil Kessel scored 34 seconds apart in the second period and
Nikolai Kulemin notched the game-winner for Toronto, which has won three in a
row for the first time since starting the season 4-0.
Colby Armstrong was able to suit up for the Maple Leafs last night despite
suffering a scratched right cornea on a sucker-punch from Atlanta's Ben Eager
With starter Jean-Sebastien Giguere not likely to return from a groin injury
until Thursday in Phoenix, the 22-year-old Reimer could get the call again
tonight over Jonas Gustavsson. Giguere hasn't played since Dec. 16.
Toronto will be gunning for its first victory in San Jose tonight since March
26, 1997. The club has notched three losses and two ties in five meetings
there since and hasn't beaten the Sharks overall since a 4-3 home win on Jan.
29, 2002. The two franchises skated to a tie in the next two matchups, though
the Sharks have won the last four meetings overall.
San Jose will hope to continue that success tonight as its current four-game
slide is the club's longest since dropping six in a row from March 13-21.
The Sharks have also lost six of their last eight and have been shut out twice
over their last three games. San Jose was last in action on Sunday, dropping a
1-0 decision in Anaheim.
Antti Niemi stopped 27 shots for San Jose, which was coming off a 2-1 home
loss to Nashville on Saturday.
"We are playing good hockey but nothing wants to find its way in the net for
us right now," said Sharks forward Joe Thornton. "We are right there, right on
the brink of breaking out. We've just got to keep working at it, because it is
tough to score goals. We are getting a lot of chances but we have to keep our
heads up and keep fighting."
Forward Dany Heatley's struggles continued as he has gone without a goal in
five straight and has just two in past 17 games.
The Sharks are tied for ninth in the Western Conference with 47 points, eight
back of the first-place Stars in the Pacific Division.
San Jose has lost four straight as the host and begins a three-game homestand
01/11 10:59:14 ET