Leafs visit Senators, look to keep chances alive
Saturday, 04.02.2011 / 7:00 PMMAPLE LEAFS (36-32-10) at SENATORS (30-38-10)
TV: CBC (HD)
Toronto 7-3-0; Ottawa 5-4-1
Sixth and final meeting of the season between these Northeast Division rivals. Ottawa has won three of five to this point, including a 1-0 win in Toronto in the most recent matchup on Feb. 19, with Craig Anderson
and James Reimer
posting dueling shutouts through 65 minutes of play before Jason Spezza
scored the decisive shootout goal.
With four games remaining, the Maple Leafs basically need to win out and get some help from the teams facing the Sabres, Rangers and Hurricanes. Toronto is five points behind both Buffalo and New York, which hold down the final two Eastern Conference playoff berths, and trails Carolina by two points.
With no margin for error after a 4-2 loss in Detroit last Saturday night, Toronto won its following two outings over Buffalo and Boston, giving the Maple Leafs five victories in six games. Joffrey Lupul
scored in the third period to force overtime against the Bruins and when five extra minutes didn't decide anything it came down to a shootout, where rookie Nazem Kadri
had the only goal for a 4-3 win.
"It was a playoff atmosphere," coach Ron Wilson said. "If that's the only playoffs we see, it can make the team better."
For a significant period of time Ottawa was stuck in the Eastern Conference basement, but the Senators' improved play since the trade deadline has lifted them past the Panthers by virtue of having three more non-shootout wins than Florida. The Senators beat the Panthers 4-1 on Thursday behind a pair of goals from Colin Greening
, who was promptly re-assigned Friday to AHL Binghamton, where he's shuffled back and forth repeatedly this season.
"That was fantastic," Greening said. "It's my first multiple-goal game. It's nice to get two goals. I can't really describe the feeling."
Lupul initially struggled after the Maple Leafs acquired him from the Ducks, but he currently has 4 goals and 2 assists over his last five games. Phil Kessel
has 1 goal and 6 assists during a six-game points streak. … Anderson is 3-0-1 in his last four starts and 9-4-1 with a 1.92 goals-against average and .944 save percentage for the Senators after being traded by the Avalanche.
Toronto is missing forwards Colton Orr
(concussion) and Colby Armstrong
(broken foot). … Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson
suffered a laceration to his right thigh against Florida that coach Cory Clouston said required around 25 stitches, and is likely to miss Saturday's game. Captain Daniel Alfredsson
(back), who last played Feb. 7, has been skating with the team. Forward Peter Regin
(shoulder), defensemen Matt Carkner
(knee) and Sergei Gonchar
(concussion) and goalie Pascal Leclaire (hip) are also sidelined.
Kessel picked up two assists for the Maple Leafs on Thursday, giving him 60 points. That ties his career high set during his final season with the Bruins in 2008-09, when Kessel scored a career-best 36 goals. He has 29 this season. … The Senators' penalty kill has been successful on 79 of its last 82 opportunities, a 96.3-percent success rate.
Reimer was named the NHL's Rookie of the Month on Friday. During March, the 23-year-old went 9-4-1 with a 2.87 GAA, .913 save percentage and a shutout of Minnesota. He has been in goal for each of Toronto's last 14 wins.