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Rangers seek more consistent effort vs. Maple Leafs

by Dave Lozo

MAPLE LEAFS (2-2-0) at RANGERS (1-3-0)


Season series: This is the first of three meetings between the teams. Despite the Rangers running away with the Eastern Conference and the Maple Leafs finishing in the basement last season, Toronto went 2-1-1 in four games against New York.

Big story: Each team is playing for the third time in four nights for the first time this season, and both are coming off losses where the energy levels weren't there in the third period. The Leafs are adjusting to life without Joffrey Lupul (fractured forearm, out six weeks) while the Rangers are trying to find balance with a top-heavy offense.

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs: In their first game without Lupul, the Leafs looked like they were on their way to a third win. They led the Islanders 3-1 after the first period Thursday night. But the Islanders scored five straight goals and wore down the Leafs in a 7-4 victory at Air Canada Centre.

Ben Scrivens, making his third start, allowed five goals on 25 shots before giving way to James Reimer, who allowed one more goal on seven shots. Dion Phaneuf was minus-3, and Phil Kessel failed to score his first goal of the season.

"I don't have an explanation for you," coach Randy Carlyle said of his team's showing, "and my message is that we accept responsibility for the way we played tonight -- but we will be judged on how we perform Saturday."

Rangers: After earning their first win of the season in thrilling fashion Wednesday with a 4-3 overtime victory on the strength of Marian Gaborik's hat trick, the Rangers struggled again the following night in Philadelphia.

The top line of Gaborik with Brad Richards and Rick Nash that dominated the Bruins was broken up against the Flyers due to poor play as the Rangers fell 2-1. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was sharp and Taylor Pyatt continued to surprise with his third goal in as many games, but overall, it was another poor performance.

"I think it was spotty," captain Ryan Callahan said. "At times I thought it was there, and at other times it wasn't. Especially with this team, you have to bring a full 60 minutes of that to win the game. And it was in and out tonight."

Who's hot: Matt Frattin, who was called up to replace Lupul on Thursday, had three points in his season debut. … Pyatt has three goals in four games this season and has been cited by Rangers coach John Tortorella as his most consistent forward this season.

Injury report: Lupul is out for Toronto, and Rangers forward Arron Asham (groin) has missed two straight games.

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