Maple Leafs-Senators Preview
GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (16-12-3) at Ottawa Senators (22-5-2).
TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.
The Ottawa Senators try to work out of their first slump of the season when they host their provincial archrivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Ottawa is 1-1-2 in its last four games and was shut out for the second time in seven games with Thursday's 2-0 home loss to Dallas. While the Senators have played without injured right wing Martin Havlat and defenseman Wade Redden, it was the lack of discipline that led to their undoing.
The Senators had to kill off 10 penalties in the game, the fourth time this season they've had to kill 10 or more. Three of their seven total losses have come in those games, and the Senators - who lead the Eastern Conference with 19.8 penalty minutes per game - know it is imperative to stay out of the penalty box.
"When we're short-handed that much in one game, it's obviously going to hinder us," said Ottawa center Jason Spezza, who returned after missing one game with a hip injury. "It takes the flow out of the game and then they sit back and play four men back and we don't penetrate them very well. We have some changes to make and adapt to these rules a little bit better."
Redden, who has missed 10 games with a sprained left knee, will play this game. Senators coach Bryan Murray is hoping the presence of the veteran blueliner, who often starts the offense with breakout passes, will bring back some needed speed.
"When you lose one of those people, you're (excited) when they come back. He's an all-star," Murray said of Redden, who had 21 points in his first 19 games.
The Maple Leafs have the strength to challenge the Senators special teams and enter the game ranked second in the league on the power play at 21.7 percent. Toronto snapped a three-game losing streak Monday with a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, scoring twice on the man advantage.
Toronto played without goaltender Ed Belfour, who is suffering from a sore groin, and center Eric Lindros, who also will miss this game with a sprained ligament in his right wrist.
"(Lindros) may not be that long. We're building a brace for him," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said.
Belfour likely will start this game, hoping to beat the Senators for the first time in four games this season. He was chased in Toronto's 8-0 loss Oct. 29 after allowing five goals on 15 shots in less than 25 minutes.
STANDINGS: Maple Leafs - 35 points, 4th place, 11 PB, Northeast Division. Senators - 46 points, 1st place, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Darcy Tucker, 13 goals; Bryan McCabe, 28 assists, 38 points and 42 PIM; Bryan McCabe, 42 PIM. Senators - Daniel Alfredsson, 21 goals; Spezza, 32 assists; Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley, 44 points; Zdeno Chara, 80 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Maple Leafs - Power play: 21.7 percent (44 for 202), 3rd in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.8 percent (159 for 192), 13th. Senators - Power play: 20.8 percent (38 for 182), 4th. Penalty killing: 86.6 percent (169 for 195), 3rd.
GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Belfour (12-10-2, 0 SO, 3.16 GAA); Tellqvist (4-2-1, 1, 2.35). Senators - Hasek (16-4-1, 3, 1.99); Emery (6-1-1, 1, 2.21).
SEASON SERIES: Senators, 3-0.
LAST MEETING: Oct. 29; Senators, 8-0. At Toronto, Heatley scored a career-high four goals and Hasek made 27 saves for his 65th career shutout.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 6-5-2 on the road; Senators - 12-3-0 at home.