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Isles ready to host Leafs

by Brian Compton /
MAPLE LEAFS (22-26-5) at ISLANDERS (17-28-7)


Last 10: Toronto 4-5-1; New York 4-6-0.

Season Series: This is the second of four meetings between the teams. They last met on Oct. 18, when the Isles earned a 2-1 overtime victory at the Air Canada Centre. John Tavares scored the game-winner in the extra session.

Big Story: It appeared there was trouble in paradise when Phil Kessel told reporters on Sunday that he has no communication with Leafs coach Ron Wilson, while the latter claimed Kessel refutes any attempts to discuss how he can improve his game. Toronto GM Brian Burke met with the pair to try to put out the flames.

"I just told them to, 'Sort it out with each other, get it cleared up,'" Burke said Monday. "Because neither one of them is going anywhere. I am not trading the player. I am not firing the coach.

"Listen, this is a tempest in a teapot. It's a frustrated hockey player who isn't happy because he isn't scoring and said some things that weren't perceived correctly. Phil Kessel does not want out of Toronto. He told me (Monday) morning he loves it in Toronto and would like to sign another contract here."

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs: Sunday's soap opera didn't have any lingering effects on the hockey club, as Toronto went out Monday night and beat the Atlanta Thrashers 5-4 at the Air Canada Centre. Nikolai Kulemin and Tim Brent each scored in the third period for the Leafs, who pulled within nine points of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"We look at the standings every day," Brent said. "We don't have room to be complacent."

Islanders: He had to wait more than a month to play for the parent club, but defenseman Ty Wishart earned a pair of assists in his Isles debut Saturday night, a 5-3 win against the Ottawa Senators at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Wishart, 22, was acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Dwayne Roloson on New Year's Day. He had been with AHL Bridgeport since the trade.

"Initially, it was a shock to be traded," Wishart told Newsday on Monday. "I had no idea I was getting traded. But I kind of said goodbye to the guys, settled into my hotel that night and said, 'Wow, this is a great opportunity.' I just want to take advantage of the situation."

Who's Hot: Clarke MacArthur scored his 17th goal of the season on Monday night. It matches a career-high that he set in 2008-09 with Buffalo. Mikhail Grabovski scored his team-leading 22nd goal against the Thrashers. … Isles forward Michael Grabner has seven goals in his last 10 games.
Injury Report: Toronto will be without forwards Colton Orr (head) and Mike Brown (upper body). … New York is missing goaltenders Rick DiPietro (facial fractures, knee swelling), Nathan Lawson (knee), defensemen Mark Streit (shoulder), Mark Eaton (hip) and Mike Mottau (hip) and forwards Blake Comeau (concussion), Trent Hunter (knee) and Doug Weight (back). Bruno Gervais is also day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Stat Pack: Including Monday's 5-4 decision, Toronto and Atlanta have combined for 30 goals in three meetings this season. … Isles forward Rob Schremp ended a 17-game scoring drought Saturday night with a pair of goals.

Puck Drop: "I think sometimes it's good to shuffle up just to help other guys out or get some excitement back playing with different guys. It worked tonight. Whoever you're out there with you've just got to work." -- Leafs forward Clarke MacArthur
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