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At the Rink: Maple Leafs at Senators

by Chris Stevenson

OTTAWA -- The latest chapter of the Battle of Ontario has an air of desperation about it.

The Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs each are badly in need of a win heading into their game Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, SN, TVA Sports) at Canadian Tire Centre.

It is the last game for each team before the All-Star break, which ends Jan. 26.

The Maple Leafs have lost five games in a row, have been shut out three times in that streak and have scored two goals.

Since a 10-1-1 run from Nov. 20 to Dec. 16, the Maple Leafs are 3-13-0 and have surrendered their grip on an Eastern Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Senators could tie them for sixth place in the Atlantic Division with a regulation win.

The Maple Leafs are 1-6-0 under interim coach Peter Horacek, who replaced Randy Carlyle on Jan. 7, and have been outscored 24-9. They did not skate Wednesday and the Senators had an optional skate in which six players participated.

Ottawa is coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday and is 7-7-4 under coach Dave Cameron, who succeeded Paul MacLean on Dec. 8. The Senators are 1-1-1 three games into a stretch in which they play 12 of 15 games at home and are looking to cut into the 11-point deficit they face in their chase for the last wild-card position in the East.

Senators forward Chris Neil was asked if it was a priority for them to start quickly given the Maple Leafs' recent struggles.

"I doesn't matter who you're playing, you want to get on any team," Neil said. "You want to have good starts and follow it up. With the parity in the game today any team can beat any team. For us it's being consistent. Whether we have a good first period and let up in the second, the other team is going to have a push back. It's how you handle it and have a push back of your own right after. I think we've been doing a better job of that."

Cameron confirmed goaltender Craig Anderson will start his fourth straight game.

Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer improved his record against the Senators to 9-2-1 when he stopped 38 shots Nov. 9 in a 5-3 win. He has a .944 save percentage and 1.98 goals-against average in his career against Ottawa.

Toronto has won 10 of its past 12 games against Ottawa and eight of the past 11 at Canadian Tire Centre.

Here are the projected lineups:


James van Riemsdyk - Nazem Kadri - Phil Kessel

Daniel Winnik - Tyler Bozak - David Clarkson

Richard Panik - Mike Santorelli - Josh Leivo

David Booth - Trevor Smith - Matt Frattin

Dion Phaneuf - Cody Franson

Morgan Rielly - Roman Polak

Jake Gardiner - Korbinian Holzer

James Reimer

Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Stuart Percy

Injured: Peter Holland (hand), Joffrey Lupul (lower body), Stephane Robidas (upper body), Leo Komarov (shoulder)


Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris - Mark Stone

Mike Hoffman - Mika Zibanejad - Bobby Ryan

Erik Condra - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Alex Chiasson

Milan Michalek - David Legwand - Chris Neil

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson

Jared Cowen - Cody Ceci

Chris Phillips - Eric Gryba

Craig Anderson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Curtis Lazar, Colin Greening, Patrick Wiercioch

Injured: Zack Smith (wrist), Mark Borowiecki (lacerated leg)

Status report: Borowiecki took part in the Senators' optional skate Wednesday but is not ready to play. He sustained a leg laceration Dec. 29. … Cameron said there will be changes to the Senators lineup but wasn't ready to reveal them. … Phillips has played 1,176 games for the Senators, second in Ottawa history to former captain Daniel Alfredsson.

Who's hot: Stone has two goals and five assists during a six-game point streak.

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