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Leafs try to keep rolling in Columbus

by Brian Compton

MAPLE LEAFS (8-3-1) at BLUE JACKETS (2-9-1)


Last 10: Toronto 6-3-1; Columbus 2-7-1.

Season Series: This is the lone meeting between the teams. They last faced each other on Dec. 30, 2010, when Columbus earned a 3-2 victory at the Air Canada Centre. It's only the fourth visit ever by the Leafs to Nationwide Arena; they've won two of the first three.

Big Story: Toronto keeps rolling along. After going 7-3-1 in October, the plan for the Leafs was to carry that success into November. The momentum was on display Wednesday night, when Toronto earned a 5-3 victory at New Jersey.

Still, Leafs coach Ron Wilson isn't about to get overly excited.

"I wouldn't say we're loosey-goosey," Wilson said after Wednesday's win. "But it's like being in a sidecar of a motorcycle and not knowing where the driver is going. I'm happy we won, don't get me wrong. But we're starting to get picky about the way we win."

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs : Phil Kessel led the way for Toronto in October. Will Joffrey Lupul be the man for the Leafs in October?

Lupul scored three goals in the second period Wednesday night to lead the Maple Leafs past the Devils at Prudential Center. All three tallies came in a span of 7:22 as he notched his first hat trick since Dec. 12, 2007, when he had six points for the Philadelphia Flyers against Pittsburgh.

"We have a lot of speed coming down the ice right now," Lupul said. "When we're skating like that, we're tough to handle. We might not be the most physical team around, but when we skate like this, we're tough to stop."

Blue Jackets: Columbus avoided a three-game losing streak Sunday night as Rick Nash, Ryan Johansen and Fedor Tyutin scored in a 3-1 victory against the Anaheim Ducks at Nationwide Arena. James Wisniewski chipped in with a pair of assists to help the Blue Jackets win for just the second time in 12 tries this season.

"When we play with a little bit of any edge, when we play like we're pissed off, when we play in the hard areas and go there first ... that's usually when better things happen for us," coach Scott Arniel said.

Who's Hot: Kessel has 10 goals and 10 assists in 12 games, the best start for a Toronto player since the 1944-45 season. Meanwhile, Lupul already has eight goals after scoring 14 in 54 games last season. … James Wisniewski, who missed the first eight games of the season due to a suspension, has four points in as many contests.

Injury Report: Leafs goalie James Reimer (head) has missed the last four starts but will start Thursday night. Right wing Colby Armstrong is out with a sprained ankle. … Jeff Carter (broken foot), Kristian Huselius (torn pectoral muscle), Mark Dekanich (ankle), Curtis Sanford (groin) and Jared Boll (thumb) are out for the Blue Jackets, while Radek Martinek (concussion) and Marc Methot (thumb) are day-to-day.

Stat Pack: After Thursday night, the Leafs will play four of their next five on home ice. … Columbus has faced the opposition's backup goaltender the past four games.

Puck Drop: "It was good to get it against him, because he always had my number when I was with Philly. I was fortunate to get some chances in the second period. All night, we were just trying to get as many pucks to the net." -- Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul on notching a hat trick against Devils goalie Martin Brodeur; it's the first one allowed by Brodeur in more than seven years

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