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Game Day Preview

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
GAME: Ottawa Senators (36-14-7-1) at Toronto Maple Leafs (31-21-4-1).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

Three straight shutouts may be a rare accomplishment for a goaltender, but not for Patrick Lalime.

Lalime tries to record three consecutive shutouts for the second time this season when the red-hot Ottawa Senators meet the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Lalime, making a strong case for the Vezina Trophy as the league's best goaltender, stopped 24 shots Thursday for his second consecutive shutout as Ottawa beat the Edmonton Oilers 2-0.

It was the career high-tying seventh shutout of the season for Lalime, who moved into a tie for the NHL lead with New Jersey's Martin Brodeur and Chicago's Jocelyn Thibault.

"I'm trying to do the same job every game," Lalime said. "I saw the puck really well. The guys in front of the net did a good job clearing the puck. The players are ready to pay the price on our team."

Lalime recorded three straight shutouts from Jan. 9-14, against Calgary, Edmonton and Tampa Bay, respectively.

Marian Hossa scored his 36th goal and Magnus Arvedson added his ninth for Ottawa, which moved three points ahead of New Jersey for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

The Senators have won three in a row and are 4-0-1 since losing a season-high three straight before the All-Star break.

Ottawa has continued to flourish despite several injuries. Forwards Radek Bonk and Peter Schaefer and defenseman Curtis Leschyshyn all sat out Thursday.

Toronto is likely too far behind to catch Ottawa in the Northeast Division, but fourth place in the conference is within striking distance.

The Maple Leafs moved a step closer to the fourth seed with a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday.

Alyn McCauley, Jyrki Lumme and Tie Domi scored in a 4:55 span early in the first period and Ed Belfour made 32 saves, as Toronto posted its sixth win in seven games.

"If we didn't have good goaltending, it could have been a different result," coach Pat Quinn said. "That's the biggest reason we've improved.

He's given us a chance to win." Belfour, another challenger for the Vezina Trophy, has allowed 11 goals during a personal 5-1 stretch.

Veteran left wing Gary Roberts, who has missed the entire season following shoulder surgery, has been cleared to play and could make his season debut Saturday.

"The information I have is that he has physical clearance," Quinn said.

"Now it's his own readiness. I haven't talked to Gary, but if he wants to play, we'll play him."

STANDINGS (through Feb. 13):
Senators - 80 points, 1st place, Northeast Division.
Maple Leafs - 67 points, 2nd place, 13 PB, Northeast Division.

Senators - Hossa, 36 goals; Daniel Alfredsson, 37 assists and 59 points; Zdeno Chara, 77 PIM.
Maple Leafs - Mats Sundin, 27 goals; Alexander Mogilny, 34 assists and 56 points; Domi, 112 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 13):
Senators - Power play: 21.6 percent (62 for 287), 1st in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.5 percent (207 for 242), 9th.
Maple Leafs - Power play: 17.5 percent (45 for 257), 11th. Penalty killing: 87.9 percent (254 for 289), 1st.

Senators - Lalime (26-14-6, 7 SO, 2.10 GAA); Martin Prusek (10-1-1, 2.35).
Maple Leafs - Belfour (26-15-3, 6, 2.11); Trevor Kidd (4-6-1, 3.30).

SEASON SERIES: Senators, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 25; Senators, 2-0. At Ottawa, Lalime made 22 saves for his 21st career shutout and Mike Fisher and Schaefer provided him with offensive support.

Senators - 16-10-5-0 on the road;
Maple Leafs - 17-10-2-0 at home.
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