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Maple Leafs-Senators Preview @NHL

The Ottawa Senators offense finally helped Alex Auld earn a win his last time out, but the goalie hasn't gotten much help recently against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Ottawa tries to earn back-to-back victories following a six-game losing streak when it hosts Toronto on Thursday night.

After scoring two goals or fewer in each game during the skid, Ottawa (7-9-4) won 4-1 Saturday over the New York Rangers - its highest output since also defeating Philadelphia 4-1 on Nov. 6.

"We felt like we had been playing well enough to win," said Auld, who has made six straight starts. "It's a great feeling to finally get one. It's good for the morale, and now we can build on this and keep going."

The Senators will be looking to do that against the Leafs (7-9-5), who have gotten the better of Auld in his career. Auld has a 2.34 goals-against average in eight games - seven starts - against Toronto, but is just 2-3-2.

In his last five starts versus the Leafs, Auld's teammates have given him no more than two goals each time, including a 3-2 Senators loss on Oct. 25.

Auld stands among the league leaders with a 2.04 GAA, but is only 6-5-3.

The free-agent acquisition from Boston has held opponents to two goals or fewer in nine of his 14 starts this season. In his last three games he has given up four goals, but he's gone 1-0-2 with shootout defeats to Montreal and the Rangers.

Even with Ottawa's offensive struggles, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson are on point streaks. Heatley, who leads the team with 11 goals and 20 points, has two goals and three assists in his last four games while Alfredsson has put up those same numbers during a five-game streak.

Heatley has 26 goals against Toronto, his most against any opponent. Alfredsson has 25 goals and 32 assists in 57 meetings with the Leafs.

Toronto has lost four straight, falling 6-3 to Atlanta on Tuesday, and is 2-5-1 in its last eight.

The Leafs are close to signing Brian Burke, architect of Anaheim's 2007 Stanley Cup-winning team, to replace interim Cliff Fletcher as their new general manager. If Burke does come aboard, his first order of business might be trying to shore up the defense.

The Leafs have scored 3.10 goals per game and converted 21.8 percent of their power-play opportunities. However, they have also given up 3.57 goals per contest and killed off 73.2 percent of their penalties.

After three straight losses for Vesa Toskala, Toronto went to backup Curtis Joseph in Tuesday's game. The results didn't change as the former Vezina Trophy finalist gave up a season-high six goals and dropped to 0-3-1.

"It was ugly," Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "We didn't compete at the level that we had been competing at."

Toskala has won five of his last six starts against the Senators, while Joseph has lost 10 of his past 12 - six straight in Ottawa.

Right wing Lee Stempniak, who was acquired from St. Louis on Monday, had an assist against Atlanta.

The Maple Leafs have won five of their past six meetings with the Senators.

EA SPORTS NHL09 Game Predictions
Toronto 4
Three Stars
G: 2 | A: 1

G: 2 | A: 0

G: 2 | A: 1


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