NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, March 8th
(All times eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (32-26-9) at Ottawa Senators (38-23-6), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Toronto Maple Leafs continue their fight for a playoff
berth this evening, when they begin a home-and-home series with the rival
Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place.
The Maple Leafs are involved in a mad dash for the few remaining postseason
places in the Eastern Conference and with 73 points, are currently tied with
Carolina for the eighth and final spot in the East. Montreal is 10th in the
conference with 72 points, while 13th-place Florida is just six points behind
Toronto and Carolina.
Toronto has jumped out to a solid start in March, as it has won two of its
three tests to begin the new month. The small spark was sorely needed, because
the Leafs had ended February by dropping four of their last five contests.
The Maple Leafs were last in action on Tuesday and blanked the visiting
Washington Capitals, 3-0, at Air Canada Centre. Andrew Raycroft made 24 saves
for his second shutout of the season to lead Toronto.
Darcy Tucker, Yanic Perreault and Alexei Ponikarovsky all tallied for the
Leafs. It was the first goal in nearly three months for Tucker, who was
playing his second game since returning from a broken foot that caused him to
miss 39 contests.
Toronto will have to play its third straight game without defenseman Tomas
Kaberle, who is still recovering from a concussion and neck injury sustained
in Friday's game against New Jersey. The injuries came as a result of a late
hit from Devils forward Cam Janssen, who was suspended three games by the
league for the incident.
While Toronto has played well in the early stages of March, the Senators have
stumbled out of the gate with a three-game losing streak to start the new
month. The latest setback came at home on Tuesday against Sidney Crosby and
the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Crosby scored the game-winning goal in the shootout as the Pens rallied from a
three-goal deficit in the third period to defeat Ottawa, 5-4.
Mike Fisher, Christoph Schubert, Chris Kelly and Dany Heatley scored for the
Senators, who are 0-1-2 in their last three games after they had won eight of
nine to close out the month of February.
Ray Emery allowed only one goal through the first two periods, but fell apart
in the third and finished with 23 saves in the loss.
Heatley registered a point for the 12th straight game, giving him the second-
longest current streak in the NHL. He has 10 goals and nine assists during the
The Senators played the game without center Jason Spezza, who was sidelined
with back spasms. Spezza, who is third on the team with 67 points (27 goals,
40 assists), is questionable for this evening's game.
Tuesday's result allowed Pittsburgh to climb within a point of Ottawa for the
fourth playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.
Ottawa has held the upper hand in the series with the Maple Leafs this season,
taking four of the six meetings. The Sens have also been victorious in 11 of
its last 14 overall matchups with the Leafs and Toronto has dropped five of
its last seven games at Scotiabank Place.
The Leafs are 19-11-4 as the visiting club this year, while Ottawa is 21-11-3
on its home ice. The teams will close the home-and-home set Saturday at the
Air Canada Centre.
03/08 10:43:21 ET