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Maple Leafs begin road trip against Ducks

by David Kalan

MAPLE LEAFS (34-23-8) at DUCKS (43-14-7)


Last 10: Toronto 6-2-2; Anaheim 4-4-2

Season series: The Toronto Maple Leafs won their only previous game this season against the Anaheim Ducks, earning a 4-2 victory at Air Canada Centre on Oct. 22, 2013. The game on Monday will be the final meeting of the season between Toronto and Anaheim.

Big story: As the Maple Leafs cling to the last guaranteed spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Atlantic Division, they'll open a five-game road trip that could make or break their stretch run in Anaheim. The Ducks are in a tight battle of their own and look to stave off the St. Louis Blues in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs: Toronto's visit to Anaheim on Monday is the first stop on a road trip that will pit the Maple Leafs against the Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings, teams that are currently in playoff position or within reach of a wild-card spot. The trip comes at a crucial juncture for Toronto, which currently leads the Tampa Bay Lightning by two points for third place in the Atlantic. The Lightning, however, have a game in hand on Toronto.

The Maple Leafs have won two games in a row, but each victory came in overtime. Toronto has two wins in regulation over the past month and none since returning to action following the Olympic break. In the Leafs' most-recent game, a 4-3 overtime win on Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers, they blew two separate leads before Joffrey Lupul scored the game-winner at 2:21 of overtime.

"It feels good," Lupul said afterward. "We don't want to make a habit of blowing third-period leads. Things are going to happen, other teams are going to make plays and we stuck with it."

Ducks: After playing most of this season at a blistering pace, Anaheim finds itself in what qualifies as a prolonged slump for the League's overall leader. The Ducks have three regulation wins since the start of February, while losing their past two games in shootouts to the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins.

As a result, the Ducks, who at one point appeared set to run away with the NHL's top record, hold a one-point lead over St. Louis.

In Anaheim's most-recent game against Pittsburgh on Friday night, the Ducks let a lead slip away in the third period before being edged in a six-round shootout. Forward Corey Perry scored two goals in the defeat.

"I thought we played pretty well," forward Kyle Palmieri said. "There were a couple opportunities we had that might've been able to put the game away. [Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller] played a great game. When he was tested, he came up big for us. Overall, it was a good test for us, but falling in a shootout is disappointing."

After facing hosting the Leafs on Monday, the Ducks will open a three-game road trip with stops against the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles.

Who's hot: Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri has scored in two straight games. ... Perry has four goals and an assist in the past three games.

Injury report: Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa (lower-body injury) is out. Recently-acquired defenseman Stephane Robidas (broken leg) is on injured reserve, as is forward Mathieu Perreault (upper-body injury). … Maple Leafs forwards David Clarkson (leg injury) and Colton Orr (undisclosed) are questionable. Center David Bolland (ankle injury) remains on IR.

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