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Preds continue homestand against Leafs

by Brian Compton
MAPLE LEAFS (10-6-2) at PREDATORS (9-5-3)


Last 10: Toronto 5-4-1; Nashville 6-2-2.

Season Series: This is the lone meeting between the teams. They last faced each other on Nov. 16, 2010, when Toronto earned a 5-4 victory at the Air Canada Centre.

Big Story: Toronto is in the midst of a 1-3-1 slide, and now has to attempt to snap out of its recent funk without two of its top-six forwards. The Leafs will be forced to face the Preds without Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski, who were both injured during Tuesday night's 3-2 shootout loss to Phoenix at the Air Canada Centre.

"We're not sure what is going on there, he will need to go see the doctor today," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said of MacArthur's injury. "It is an opportunity for someone else to step up and get the job done."

That someone else could be Tim Connolly, who is expected to be in the lineup Thursday night for the first time in almost two weeks. Connolly had been out with an upper-body injury.

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs: Toronto fell to 1-3-1 in its last five games with Tuesday's loss, although the Leafs did manage to rally from an early 2-0 deficit. Phoenix scored twice in the first 5:18 of the contest, but Mike Komisarek and Phil Kessel scored early in the third period as the Leafs -- who lost MacArthur and Grabovski in the process -- were able to force overtime. Patrick O'Sullivan and Radim Vrbata beat Ben Scrivens in the shootout as the Leafs failed to pick up a second point in the standings.

"I thought it was a real character job by us, especially when your bench gets shortened like that," Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf said. "We lost a few key guys. I thought we really did a good job to come back and get the point."  

Predators: Pekka Rinne was sensational again Tuesday night, as he out-dueled Tomas Vokoun in Nashville's 3-1 win against the Washington Capitals at Bridgestone Arena. Rinne made 39 saves for the Preds, who pulled within four points of first-place Chicago in the Central Division.

Troy Brouwer broke a scoreless tie for the Caps at 15:14 of the third period, but Martin Erat quickly responded with his third goal of the season just 28 seconds later. Colin Wilson gave Nashville its first lead of the night at 19:35 and Shea Weber quickly sealed it with an empty-net tally.

"He made some really big saves," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said of Rinne. "There's one that I don't know he even saw the puck. It was going behind him and he reached back. Enough said. You saw it."

Who's Hot: Toronto winger Phil Kessel scored his League-leading 13th goal Tuesday night and has tallied a point in 15 of the Leafs' 18 games this season. … Rinne is 6-0-2 with a 1.97 goals-against average in his last eight starts for Nashville.

Injury Report: Besides Grabovski (lower body) and MacArthur (upper body), the Leafs are also expected to be without goalie James Reimer (head) and winger Colby Armstrong (sprained ankle). … David Legwand (upper body) and Teemu Laakso (cyst) are out indefinitely. 

Stat Pack: Preds captain Shea Weber has had a plus-rating in nine consecutive games -- all against playoff teams. Weber is a plus-14 during that span.

Puck Drop: "This homestand is important for us. It showed that resiliency that we've been known to have, going back to last year. We never seem to panic anymore. That's a good sign. We just keep going at it." -- Preds goalie Pekka Rinne on the club's five-game homestand

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