TORONTO – The Battle of Ontario is never lacking for story lines, and the matchup between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators at Air Canada Center on Saturday night is no different.
The Maple Leafs lead the Senators in the Atlantic Division by six points going into the game, and for them it's a chance to put a little distance between themselves and their cross-province rival, who hold two games in hand.
"I don't think there needs [to be] any extra motivation for this game," Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri said. "They're kind of right on our tails in the standings. We want to try to keep them in our rear-view as much as possible."
Kadri has been a key player for the Maple Leafs lately and has scored 12 points in the past 8 games. Toronto is 8-1-1 in the past 10 games.
The Maple Leafs held an optional skate but have a pair of forwards dealing with injuries. Carter Ashton has a swollen hand and Peter Holland is dealing with "lace bite," an inflammation of the foot tendons caused by tight skates.
"It's a new one for me," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "To me it's crazy. It's something that a guy wears a pair of new skates in the morning, plays the game that night, and the next morning's got lace bite. Go figure. I'm at a loss to explain it.
"All I know is the kid's got a foot that's swollen up that it's not weight-bearing now. He's on crutches and it's one of those situations where we deal with it. So I'm dealing with it."
Carlyle said Fraser McLaren (shoulder) was an option to come off injured reserve and play if needed.
James Reimer was the only goalie that participated in the morning skate meaning Jonathan Bernier will start against Ottawa.
The Senators have won two in a row and are looking to close the gap on the Maple Leafs.
"It's going to be no problem getting ready or getting pumped up before this game," Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson said. "It's always a great crowd, a full house and the games are usually pretty intense. Both teams play fun hockey so it should be a good one."
Senators forward Clarke MacArthur, who spent the previous three seasons with the Maple Leafs, comes into the game with 14 points in the past 13 games.
"It's always fun when the pucks are going in," MacArthur said. "I'm getting the opportunity here and it's been great so far."
MacArthur is tied with Bobby Ryan for second on the Senators in points with 42. Only Karlsson is ahead of them with 51 points.
Senators coach Paul MacLean confirmed Craig Anderson will start in goal. Matt Kassian will replace Stephane Da Costa in the lineup and there won't be other changes from the previous game, a 5-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Here are the projected lineups for the Senators and Maple Leafs:
Clarke MacArthur – Kyle Turris – Bobby Ryan
Colin Greening – Jason Spezza – Milan Michalek
Cory Conacher – Mika Zibanejad – Erik Condra
Matt Kassian – Zack Smith – Chris Neil
Jared Cowen – Erik Karlsson
Marc Methot – Eric Gryba
Patrick Wiercioch – Cody Ceci
Scratched: Chris Phillips, Joe Corvo, Stephane Da Costa
Injured: Mark Stone (arm)
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Nikolai Kulemin – Nazem Kadri – Joffrey Lupul
Mason Raymond – Jay McClement – Troy Bodie
Frazer McLaren – Greg McKegg – Colton Orr
Carl Gunnarsson – Dion Phaneuf
Tim Gleason – Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner – Morgan Rielly
Scratched: Paul Ranger
Injured: Trevor Smith (hand), David Clarkson (elbow), Dave Bolland (cut tendon), Carter Ashton (hand), Peter Holland (foot).