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Match Preview: Maple Leafs vs. Oilers

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs


TEAM NEWS

Leafs interim coach Peter Horachek confirmed the Leafs may be a touch banged up on the blueline for tonight's game and, as a result, the Leafs have recalled defender Petter Granberg on an emergency basis. Who may sit out is currently unclear but they remain a possibility for tonight's game.

Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf remains out with an upper body injury and is doubtful for tonight's contest.

"We thought before we left last night that there was a chance (of Phaneuf playing) today," said Horachek. "We don't expect to see it tonight's game but it's getting close for sure."

David Booth continues to earn a spot in the Leafs' top-six with his play of late with 11 shots on-goal to his name over the past two games. The opportunity to play alongside a dynamic centreman like Nazem Kadri should lead to production for the veteran sooner rather than later.

"Naz really opens up the ice with the way he controls the play, he's able to skate through the middle of the ice so well and have the other team gravitate to him," said Booth. "That opens me up and it lets me get my speed going too... It has been fun the last couple of games."

Horachek will go with Jonathan Bernier in goal after James Reimer handled the load on Saturday night. Other changes to the lineup from Friday night remain up in the air.

Oilers coach Todd Nelson is expected to turn to Viktor Fasth in goal tonight over former Leaf netminder Ben Scrivens. Fasth also started the Oilers' last contest and took a 2-0 loss to the Penguins earlier in the week.

"Viktor has earned the right to start tonight. He has been pretty consistent over the last six games and given us a chance to win," said Nelson. "He's feeling pretty confident right now. That's why we made that decision."

Edmonton has done a bit of line juggling in recent days, bumping Teddy Purcell up to the first line left wing slot alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. Purcell has six goals and 22 points primarily playing on the right wing lower in the lineup.

Both Taylor Hall and Benoit Pouliot are injured for the Oilers and remain doubtful to play tonight or in the immediate future.

The Oilers have recalled defenceman Martin Marincin from Oklahoma City for the weekend. In 12 games with the Oilers this season he has one assist.

FORM

The Leafs are in the midst of a record winless streak and will be looking to put the recent struggles behind them. The first goal will be a key for a Toronto team that has a .727 win percentage when scoring first.

"That's huge," said defenceman Jake Gardiner. "That's always a key to a team's success. Don't have those early lulls — try not to have them at all — but especially early in the game. Try to come out flying."

With the recent goal-scoring woes that have plagued the team, expect a heavy focus on getting to the edge of the Oilers' crease.

"I grew up Leafs fan, I wear that jersey proudly. It's tough when you're going through something like this," said David Clarkson. "We're going to get out of it here, we've got to find a way to get to the front of the net to start having pucks hit us and have bounces go our way. It starts with working hard."

The Oilers have been better away from their home rink of late, winning three of their last four games on the road. They own a 4-6-0 record in their last 10 games as a whole.

Edmonton last saw game action on Wednesday night at home to Pittsburgh where they dropped a 2-0 decision. Viktor Fasth took the loss, stopping 24 of 26 shots. He will square off with the Leafs tonight.

Tonight's meeting stands to be the first of the season between the Oilers and Maple Leafs. The Leafs have defeated the Oilers in five straight head-to-head matchups.

LAST MEETING

The Leafs and Oilers have not met in regular season play since October of 2013. That night Phil Kessel and James Reimer stole the show.

Toronto earned a 4-0 shutout win at Rexall Place in Edmonton thanks to a two-goal, two-assist performance from Kessel, while Reimer turned aside 43 pucks to earn the victory and outduel Richard Bachman who was the goaltender of record for the Oilers.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Jeff Petry

The 27-year-old Michigan native has been the target of much speculation in recent weeks as we near the trade deadline, particularly after injury problems and the occasional healthy scratch early in the season, but he has been effective recently nonetheless.

Petry is currently slated to skate on the Oilers' top pairing with Andrew Ference tonight and has been one of the Oilers' best at keeping the play in the defensive end to a minimum.

He was named a second star on Tuesday night, despite the Oilers' shutout loss.

Look for him to get the puck on his stick and spark the breakout for Edmonton when he has the opportunity.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards

21 van Riemsdyk - 42 Bozak - 81 Kessel

18 Panik - 43 Kadri - 20 Booth

19 Lupul - 25 Santorelli - 26 Winnik

47 Komarov - 24 Holland - 71 Clarkson

Defence

51 Gardiner - 4 Franson

44 Rielly - 46 Polak

55 Holzer - 12 Robidas

Goaltenders

45 Bernier

34 Reimer

Edmonton Oilers

Forwards

16 Purcell - 93 Nugent-Hopkins - 14 Eberle

28 Fraser - 8 Roy - 10 Yakupov

20 Gazdic - 51 Lander - 62 Pakarinen

23 Hendricks - 27 Gordon - 12 Klinkhammer

Defence

21 Ference - 2 Petry

84 Klefbom - 19 Schultz

85 Marincin - 5 Fayne

Goaltenders

35 Fasth

30 Scrivens

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