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Leafs try for two wins in two nights as they visit Isles

by Pete Jensen /

MAPLE LEAFS (17-13-4) at ISLANDERS (11-15-6)


LAST 10: Toronto 3-5-2; New York 4-4-2

Season Series: Friday's clash marks the first of four regular season meetings between these Eastern Conference foes. Last season, the Leafs and Islanders split their four-game season series, with New York winning twice in overtime and Toronto claiming a pair of regulation victories.

Big Story: Both teams will have a quick turnaround after spirited divisional matchups on Thursday night. The Maple Leafs travel to Long Island after snapping a three-game skid with a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres at Air Canada Centre. The Islanders are back home after a three-game trip that ended with a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs : Toronto salvaged its three-game homestand by beating Buffalo. Sporting only two wins in eight December games entering the matchup, the Leafs finally mustered a complete performance. James Reimer, who improved to 2-3-2 since returning to the lineup on Dec. 3, stopped 40 of 42 shots, but credited his teammates for earning a gutsy win.

"Our penalty-killing was great [against the Sabres], they blocked a lot of shots, and 5-on-5 they kept them to the outside, I saw [the shots] all the way in," Reimer said. "We battled hard in the defensive zone, even though they got a lot of shots I was able to see most of them."

Islanders : After failing to find the win column away from home in their first seven tries this season, New York bounced back with a 5-1-1 road stretch entering Thursday's showdown at MSG. PA Parenteau and Matt Moulson scored on the power play, but the Islanders could not muster any secondary scoring as Rangers' backup goaltender Martin Biron made 24 saves to snap New York's two-game win streak.

The Isles didn't make a ton of mistakes, but they paid for the ones they did make.

"We did some things well, but it's a rivalry game, it's a huge game," Parenteau said. "We can't turn the puck over as much as we did [Thursday]. That's probably why we lost this game."

Who's Hot: Reimer has stopped 80 of 84 shots in his last two outings, as Toronto has posted a 1-0-1 mark in that span. … Moulson has 10 goals and six assists in his last 12 games.

Injury Report: Brian Rolston (concussion), Steve Staios (concussion), Jay Pandolfo (broken foot) and Rick DiPietro (groin) will are on IR for the Islanders. Starting goaltender Al Montoya (concussion) and David Ullstrom (concussion) missed Thursday's game and there is no timetable for either player's return. … Colby Armstrong (concussion) and Philippe Dupuis (upper body) were placed on IR for Toronto this week and are expected to miss Friday's game.

Stat Pack: Toronto's Phil Kessel, who scored in the second period of Thursday's win over the Sabres, is tied for the League lead in goals (20) entering Friday's game against the Islanders. The 24-year-old joined Jonathan Toews, Steven Stamkos and Marian Gaborik as the only NHL players to reach the 20-goal mark this season.

Puck Drop: Nazem Kadri scored his first goal of the season in tie-breaking fashion to help Toronto stop its three-game losing streak on Thursday. Kadri, 21, was recalled from Toronto (AHL) earlier this week and made a statement in his first NHL game since Oct. 24.

"It felt great - It's nice to have an immediate impact," Kadri said. "Last year it took me a few games to score the first one so it's great to get the monkey off my back. Hopefully there are more to come."

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