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Rangers and Leafs try to rebound from losses

by John Kreiser

RANGERS (27-10-4) at MAPLE LEAFS (22-16-5)


LAST 10: New York 8-2-0; Toronto 6-3-1

Season Series: The teams are meeting for the third time this season as the Rangers pay their first visit to the Air Canada Centre. Toronto won 4-2 at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 27 in the Rangers' home opener, and again on Dec. 5.

Big Story: It's a battle between two teams trying to bounce back after losses. The Leafs saw were beaten 3-2 in Buffalo on Friday, while the Rangers lost 3-0 at home to Ottawa on Thursday in a game that saw coach John Tortorella playing musical chairs with his lines in an effort to get something going.

Team Scope:

Rangers: They begin the day in first place in the Eastern Conference, but all is not sweetness and light in Ranger-land after the Blueshirts came up empty against Ottawa, ending their five-game winning streak.

Tortorella wasn't kind to his team after a game in which he felt some of his players weren't giving their maximum effort.

"I think this team takes pride in trying no matter what happens," Tortorella said. "I don't think the try was there in a number of people. I'm not going to name them. I just don't think there was.

"Effort is something that can be controlled every day. That's what we trust in our team, and I still do. We've got a good team here, and I think they'll answer the proper way, but we're not going to take any nights off."

Maple Leafs: They came up short in Buffalo and missed a chance to go eight games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2006-07 season, but coach Ron Wilson wasn't unhappy with his team's performance in the back end of a home-and-home against the Sabres.

"We didn't have much puck luck," Wilson said. "We didn't get enough shots from the middle of the rink to scramble them up. And that's something that let us down. But all in all, I thought we played well."

Who's Hot: Toronto's Mikhail Grabovski has six goals and 11 points in his last nine games, including a goal and an assist on Friday.

Injury List: Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky sat out Thursday with a shoulder injury and is questionable. Defenseman Michael Sauer (concussion) and Steve Eminger (shoulder) are weeks from returning. … Toronto is missing center Tyler Bozak with a shoulder injury, while defenseman John-Michael Liles and forward Colby Armstrong are sidelined with concussions.

State Pack: The Rangers are 3-0-2 in their last five visits to the ACC, but are 91-161-39-3 all-time in the regular season at Toronto. … The Leafs are going for their sixth consecutive home win; they haven't had a stretch that long since winning their last nine home games in 2006-07.

Puck Drop: Though the Rangers are on target for their best regular season since 1993-94, they're succeeding without much help from the power play. New York is 1-for-20 during its last eight games and has dropped to 22nd in the League at 14.8 percent -- in contrast, they are fifth in 5-on-5 goals for and against at 1.31.

"We've been fortunate," Tortorella said, "but it's going to bite us in the (behind) if we don't at least try to gain some momentum off of it.
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