After being routed at home and booed off the ice, Mats Sundin and the Toronto Maple Leafs will try to bounce back at the Air Canada Centre against the surprising New York Islanders on Thursday.
The Maple Leafs (1-2-1) are 6-1 with one tie in their last eight meetings with the Islanders (3-1-0) at the Air Canada Centre, with the lone loss a 3-2 shootout defeat in the last matchup on Feb. 13. Overall, they hold a commanding 15-3-1 advantage with one tie against the Islanders in the last 20 games between the teams at Toronto.
Toronto's 7-1 loss Tuesday to Carolina was its worst home defeat since an 8-0 rout administered by Ottawa on Oct. 29, 2005.
"Good teams are going to have bad nights and lose 5-1, whatever, that's part of hockey. It's how you respond," Sundin told the team's official Web site.
Sundin, who picked up his team-high sixth assist and seventh point of the season on Bryan McCabe's goal, is tied with Darryl Sittler for second in franchise history with 527 assists, trailing only Borje Salming's 620. Sundin also is tied with Sittler with a team-record 389 goals.
Sundin, though, went pointless in three games against the Islanders last season, but has 11 goals and 23 points his last 18 games versus the Islanders at Toronto.
Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice may start backup goaltender Andrew Raycroft after Vesa Toskala struggled Tuesday. While Toskala made 32 saves, he is 1-2-0 with a 4.29 goals-against average in his first three starts after being acquired in an offseason trade from San Jose.
"We'll see what happens," said Raycroft, who made 26 stops in a 4-3 season-opening overtime loss to Ottawa on Oct. 3. "Obviously you want to get in there and play but at the same time there's going to be an opportunity for both of us to play. It's game four. We have 78 left. There's lots of hockey to get in and lots of chances to play well."
The Islanders, meanwhile, are looking to build on Wednesday's 2-1 win over the New York Rangers. Defenseman Bryan Berard scored the game-winner with 6:04 to play in his season debut.
"A lot of people questioned if I was healthy this summer after two back surgeries and missing a lot of hockey the last two years," Berard said. "I came in proving I'm healthy. I'm feeling good and I'm only going to get better."
Berard, who was limited to 55 games over the last two seasons with Columbus due to back surgeries, signed with the Islanders on Tuesday. He had won the Calder Trophy 10 years ago with the Islanders after being drafted first overall in 1995. Three years after reaching the NHL, the veteran blueliner missed the entire 2000-01 season with Toronto following eye surgery after being hit with a stick blade.
Berard, who had 49 points in 102 games for the Leafs over two seasons, practiced with the Islanders after training camp and covered his own expenses.
"He showed us a lot by sticking in practice, paying his own way with no guarantee," Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. "He earned himself a contract."
Rick DiPietro made 36 saves Wednesday to improve to 3-1-0 with a 2.02 GAA in four games. The goaltender has struggled at Toronto, going 1-3-0 with one tie and a 4.42 GAA in six contests.
It will be the first time Maple Leafs left wing Jason Blake faces the Islanders after leaving them via free agency in the offseason. Blake, who had 40 goals and 69 points with the Islanders in 2006-07, announced this week he is battling chronic myelogenous leukemia - a rare form of the disease.
Blake, who signed a five-year, $20 million deal, is taking medication for the condition and said he doesn't expect to miss playing time.