NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, November 17th
(All times Eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (10-6-2) at Nashville Predators (9-5-3), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - After getting off to a great start through their first 10
games, the Toronto Maple Leafs have struggled over the last two weeks and a
pair of new injuries isn't likely to help.
Ron Wilson's club will get one player back tonight as Tim Connolly is expected
to return to action as the Leafs aim for a third victory in a row over the
Toronto recorded a point in eight of its first 10 games, going 7-2-1. However,
the Maple Leafs have posted just a 3-4-1 record since and lost for the fourth
time in five games on Tuesday with a 3-2 shootout setback to the Coyotes.
Mike Komisarek and Phil Kessel scored third-period goals to force overtime and
Ben Scrivens made 33 saves through overtime before giving up a pair of goals
in the shootout.
Komisarek scored for the first time in 88 games, while Kessel netted his
league-leading 13th goal and 25th point. He has three goals and an assist in
his last four games.
Not only did the Maple Leafs lose on Tuesday, but they also saw Mikhail
Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur exit with injuries. Grabovski is expected to
miss two weeks with a lower-body injury, while MacArthur will sit tonight with
an upper-body issue.
With two-thirds of Toronto's second line out, that makes the return of
Connolly crucial. He has missed the past four games due to an upper-body
ailment and has been held to six games this season because of injury.
Connolly said on Wednesday that the Maple Leafs' offense shouldn't struggle
despite the injuries.
"I think as a team we have been scoring enough goals to win hockey games,"
said Connolly. "I think we have to focus on doing all the little things and
those are the things that will add up to winning hockey games."
Toronto recorded a 5-4 home win over Nashville in the lone meeting last year,
but the Predators are 6-5-0 with a tie all-time versus the Maple Leafs. The
Preds are also 2-1 in the three meetings at home against the Leafs in club
Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson will face his former club tonight for the
first time. The 24-year-old posted 50 points in two seasons with the
Nashville is 6-1-2 in its last nine games and is coming off Tuesday's
thrilling 3-1 victory over the Capitals. All four goals came in the game's
final five minutes, with Colin Wilson scoring the game-winner with 24.3
seconds left in regulation.
Shea Weber scored just five seconds later into an open net to set a franchise
record for the fastest two goals. The original record was eight seconds.
"There's a lot of energy on this club and we create our chances," said Wilson.
"We forecheck real good and cause turnovers and that will help you win all the
Weber and Martin Erat finished with a goal and an assist each and Pekka Rinne
made 39 saves to match a season high. Weber has six points in his last five
games, while Erat has totaled seven points in eight games since retuning from
Nashville center David Legwand has missed the last three games with an upper-
body injury and is doubtful for tonight.
11/17 10:49:27 ET