Maple Leafs-Oilers Preview
GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (23-15-3) at Edmonton Oilers (23-14-4).
TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.
One bounce kept the Toronto Maple Leafs from extending their longest winning streak of the season.
With their six-game run a memory, the Leafs will try to avoid being swept in Alberta when they meet the Edmonton Oilers for the only time in the regular season.
After winning five one-goal games during the run, Toronto dropped a 1-0 decision Friday to the Calgary Flames.
Ed Belfour gave up the game's only goal late in the second period when Tony Amonte deflected a shot by Robyn Rehgehr.
"It looked like it changed directions a little bit but I just didn't get a good look at it," said Belfour, who finished with 27 saves in his first loss since an 8-2 setback Dec. 17 to the Northeast Division-leading Ottawa Senators.
He is 30-8-6 in his career against the Oilers, including a 14-5-3 mark at Rexall Place.
But the Leafs may have lost more than a game. Leading goal scorer Darcy Tucker had a great opportunity on a set-up by Jason Allison's cross-ice pass with time winding down, but fanned on his shot from the right faceoff circle and aggravated a rib injury in the process.
He stayed down on the ice for a couple of minutes after the final horn had blown before being helped off.
"That was a sure goal," a dejected Tucker said.
Toronto has played just five road games since Dec. 3, going 2-3 in that span.
The Oilers are in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Edmonton begins play in second place in the Northwest Division, four points behind provinicial rival Calgary. It is also one point ahead of the third-place Vancouver Canucks and three points ahead of the fourth-place Colorado Avalanche.
Edmonton is coming off its best game of the season. Ty Conklin made 23 saves for his second career shutout and Fernando Pisani scored twice Tuesday in a 5-0 blanking of the Chicago Blackhawks.
"It's always nice for everybody to get a shutout, not just the goalie," said Conklin. "It was a strong effort right from the get-go. The game was never really in question."
Leading goal-scorer Ryan Smyth has three in his last three games and needs two more for his third straight 20-goal season.
STANDINGS: Maple Leafs - 49 points, 3rd place, 10 PB, Northeast Division. Oilers - 50 points, 2nd place, 4 PB, Northwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Tucker, 17 goals; Bryan McCabe, 32 assists, 47 points and 54 PIM; Bryan McCabe, 54 PIM. Oilers - Ryan Smyth, 18 goals; Shawn Horcoff, 31 assists and 41 points; Ethan Moreau, 55 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Maple Leafs - Power play: 20.2 percent (53 for 263), 5th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.7 percent (205 for 254), 23rd. Oilers - Power play: 19.4 percent (50 for 258), 7th. Penalty killing: 82.5 percent (208 for 252), 14th (tied).
GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Belfour (18-11-2, 0 SO, 3.14 GAA); Mikael Tellqvist (5-3-1, 1, 2.48). Oilers - Jussi Markkanen (13-10-3, 0, 3.16); Conklin (5-3-1, 1, 2.88).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 20, 2003; Maple Leafs, 3-2. At Edmonton, Alberta, Ales Hemsky and Marc-Andre Bergeron each had a goal and an assist to lead Edmonton. Tuckers and Gary Roberts scored for Toronto.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 8-8-2 on the road; Oilers - 11-6-2 at home.