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Keys to the Game: Maple Leafs vs. Sharks

by David Alter / Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs host the San Jose Sharks tonight at Air Canada Centre. Here are three keys to a win.

Fending off desperation

The Sharks are coming off a pair of devastating losses and every game they play from now is a must-win. San Jose is six points back of their last wild card spot in the NHL’s Western Conference. They have 12 games left to play. Expect the Sharks to come out desperate out of the gate. The Leafs have had all kinds of problems with quick starts this season, most recently allowing four goals in the first period against the Edmonton Oilers. The Leafs need to be ready and engaged early on in order to succeed.

Ignite Phil Kessel

He’s struggled like many players this season, but the key to getting the offence back lies with him. Kessel has found some success against San Jose, having registered two goals and two assists in the last three games played between these teams at Air Canada Centre. Getting the offence ignited is key to a win. That begins with Phil Kessel.

Goaltending + Special Teams

The San Jose Sharks have scored two or less goals in each of their last five games. The Leafs will need quality goaltending to keep the Sharks from lighting the lamp. Meanwhile, the Leafs special teams continue to be a problem for Toronto, having given up two power play goals against Edmonton. In Vancouver, Toronto went 0-for-7 which was a season worst in attempts with no success. The Sharks currently hold the fifth-best power play at 21.5 per cent.

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