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Leafs Aim for Second Win in a Row Against Islanders

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

ISLANDERS (1-1-0) at MAPLE LEAFS (2-1-0)


Season Series: It's the first of three meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals. Toronto won the first three games last season before the Islanders took the finale 5-3 at Air Canada Centre in March.

Top story: The Islanders, who've had two days off since beating Tampa Bay on Monday afternoon, start a five-game, eight-day road trip with a visit to Toronto. The Leafs are back home after spoiling the Penguins' home opener on Wednesday with a 5-2 win at Pittsburgh, giving them a 2-1-0 record and only four goals allowed in three games.

Team Scope:

Islanders: After starting their season by splitting a pair of games at home, the Islanders play their first game away from the Nassau Coliseum as they begin a five-game trip. With nine newcomers on the roster, including several who joined the team during training camp, it's a good chance for everyone to get to know each other.

"This is perfect timing for us," coach Jack Capuano said. "I think any time, early in the season especially, when you can get on the road and bond a little bit, the guys come together. We're going into some tough buildings, but with the new faces, this should be a good trip for us."

If they're going to build on Monday's 4-3 home win against Tampa Bay, the Islanders will have to solve the third-period problems that have plagued them in recent years. The Isles led 4-0 when David Ullstrom scored early in the third period; that goal wound up as the game-winner when New York surrendered three goals in less than six minutes before shutting the door on the Lightning.

Maple Leafs: After starting their season by winning 2-1 at Montreal and losing 2-1 at home to Buffalo, the Leafs broke out offensively against the Penguins while not forgetting their defensive responsibilities. The line of Mikhail Grabovski, James van Riemsdyk and Nikolai Kulemin accounted for three goals and seven points, while James Reimer made 28 saves to win his first start of the season.

Van Riemsdyk had two goals and an assist one day after receiving a talking to from coach Randy Carlyle after a sluggish start.

"It's always nice when you have a conversation with a player about getting into the dirty areas and doing some little things and he comes out... and has a three-point night," Carlyle said. "I guess you can say you'd be pretty happy with that.

"But it's not done specifically to criticize the player; it's done to motivate the player and help him. He understood. It's not like he's been out-and-out terrible; it was just that he needed to step up his game, and we needed his physical presence and him taking the puck to the net and needed his offense."

Who's Hot: Toronto-area native John Tavares had a pair of assists on Monday. … Kulemin had three assists in the win at Pittsburgh, his first three points of the season.

Injury report: The Islanders are still without forwards Josh Bailey (knee) and Jesse Joensuu (groin). … Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul left Wednesday's game in the second period with a fractured right forearm after he was hit by a shot from teammate Dion Phaneuf. He's likely to miss at least six weeks.

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