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Rangers look to even season series with Leafs

by Eric Goodman
RANGERS (1-2-1) at MAPLE LEAFS (4-0-1)

TV -- TSN (HD); MSG (HD)

Season series --
This is the second of four games between these two Original Six teams. The Leafs took the first contest of the season series with a 4-3 overtime win in New York on Oct. 15. Phil Kessel sealed it for Toronto in the extra period with his second goal of the game, a power-play tally.

Big story --
The Maple Leafs have started the 2010-11 campaign on fire, remaining as one of only two teams to have avoided a regulation loss so far. Kessel and Clarke MacArthur have paced the Leafs' offense, while veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere has been stellar between the pipes. Meanwhile, the Rangers find themselves in a bit of a rut, going 0-2-1 since their opening-night win at Buffalo. New York is desperately missing the services of veteran forwards Marian Gaborik, Chris Drury and Vinny Prospal, who are all out with long-term injuries.

Team Scope:

Rangers -- A 6-3 win over the Sabres on Oct. 9 appeared to be a sign of good things to come for the Blueshirts, but it has been slowly unraveling since then. Gaborik (left shoulder) and Drury (left finger) both went down in last Friday's game against Toronto and Prospal underwent successful knee surgery on Monday. New York has been outscored 13-8 during its current three-game winless streak. Monday's loss to Colorado also marked the third straight game in which the winning goal was scored against the Rangers with one of their men in the penalty box.

"We have to kill (the penalties)," coach John Tortorella said after the Colorado loss. "I thought we were better around our net on 5-on-5, but we don't eliminate sticks and we've been getting beat when we're shorthanded."

Maple Leafs -- What a difference a year makes. Toronto began the 2009-10 season with an eight-game winless streak, but kicked off this season with four straight wins for the first time since 1993-94. Much of the Leafs' early success can be attributed to the high-scoring potential of a line consisting of MacArthur, Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski. MacArthur is tied with Kessel for the club lead in goals with 5, while Kulemin and Grabovski have each tallied 3 assists.

When asked what thought process Leafs coach Ron Wilson went through to reach the combination of his offensively-potent trio, he didn't get too scientific.

"Just put them together and see if it works," Wilson said. "If it works quickly, keep them together."

Who's hot -- The pesky Sean Avery has 4 assists, with a plus-4 rating through four games for the Rangers. … Kessel (5-2-7) leads the Leafs in scoring and has a pair of game-winning goals through five games.

Injury report -- For the Rangers, Gaborik is out 2-4 weeks, while Drury is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with their previously mentioned injuries. Prospal will not see any action for at least 6-8 weeks.

Stat pack --
The line of MacArthur, Kulemin and Grabovski has tallied 13 points and achieved a combined plus-8 rating for the Leafs.

Puck drop --
"Nowadays you have to be politically correct. The things you used to say you’re not able to anymore. It’s as simple as that." -- Wilson, when asked by Maple reporter Matt Iaboni about the differences between trash talking during his playing day and the modern-day NHL.

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