NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, January 13th
(All times eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (18-20-4) at Phoenix Coyotes (21-13-9), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A flip of the calendar and outstanding play from a rookie
goaltender has helped the Maple Leafs rediscover the success they once had at
the early stages of the season.
Toronto will try to win five straight games for the first time in nearly four
years and halt the Phoenix Coyotes' six-game point streak this evening at
The Maple Leafs are 5-1-0 since the start of January and have won four
straight for the first time since beginning the season 4-0. They have taken
the first three contests of a four-game road trip, pushing their road win
streak to five in a row, and Toronto can claim five consecutive victories
tonight for the first time since Jan. 27-Feb. 6, 2007.
This current swing made a stop in San Jose on Tuesday and Toronto head coach
Ron Wilson earned the 600th win of his career with a 4-2 triumph against his
former club. Wilson coached the Sharks for four-plus seasons before getting
fired in May of 2008, but returned for the second time since and led the Leafs
to their first win at San Jose since 1997.
"Well, it's pretty special. I mean, obviously, I think only six other guys
have done it. You don't see it very often," Wilson said. "The best thing is
that we managed to find a way to do it here."
Carl Gunnarsson had the game-winner as part of a three-goal third period,
Clarke MacArthur scored twice and Phil Kessel scored in his fourth straight
game. Kessel has five goals in that span, while MacArthur has four tallies and
three assists over his last four games.
James Reimer made 40 saves and has been in net for each of the last three
wins, stopping 111 of the 118 shots faced. Even though Jean-Sebastien Giguere
was on pace to return from a groin injury tonight, the 22-year-old Reimer will
instead get his fourth straight start and sixth of his career.
"He's earned the shot to keep on playing," Wilson said on Wednesday. "We're
playing really well in front of him, it's just common sense. We've got some
momentum here, we're not going to toy with that kind of karma we've got going
for our team."
It is unknown if Giguere, who hasn't played since Dec. 16, or Jonas Gustavsson
will serve as the backup.
Despite their current run, the Leafs are still just 9-10-1 overall on the road
and 11 points back of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. Tonight,
they'll try to slow down a Coyotes club that is 4-0-2 in its last six and is
coming off a 4-3 victory in Columbus on Tuesday.
Radim Vrbata and Derek Morris scored third-period goals as Phoenix rallied
from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1. Morris ended a 20-game goal drought, while Eric
Belanger also scored for the first time in 28 games.
"We gave up a couple early but we came in and got nothing to lose," Coyotes
head coach Dave Tippett said. "We got in at three o'clock this morning in a
snowstorm. It's just a good night for hockey and our guys were enjoying it
and we felt like we could come back."
Ilya Bryzgalov made 37 saves for the victory and is a perfect 3-0-0 with a
1.75 GAA in his career versus Toronto.
Michal Rozsival, who was acquired from the Rangers on Monday for forward
Wojtek Wolski, was unable to join the team, but the blueliner is expected to
be with the club for this game.
Phoenix is six points behind first-place Dallas in the Pacific Division and
begins a four-game homestand tonight.
The Coyotes notched a 6-3 victory at Toronto last year to run their series
winning streak to four games. Phoenix has not lost to the Leafs since Oct. 23,
2003, winning two straight and three of its last four as the host versus
01/13 13:29:12 ET