SENATORS (0-1-0) at MAPLE LEAFS (0-1-1)
Season series -- The Leafs knocked off the Sens in their last meeting, 5-2, on April 11, 2009, clinching a 4-2 season series win for Toronto.
Big Story -- With Ottawa dropping its season opener in New York on Saturday, and Toronto falling in its first two outings, something has to give as the regional rivals battle for superiority in Ontario and their first wins of the season.
Senators: After winning 16 of its previous 21 visits to Madison Square Garden, Ottawa took it on the chin in its season opener Saturday. After a strong first period by Pascal Leclaire, who finished the night with 29 saves, the Rangers scored three times in the second and handed the Senators a 5-2 loss. A tally by Peter Regin with six seconds left made the final score more respectable, but after a tough start to the season, Ottawa will be hoping its first meeting with winless Toronto is the tonic that brings its offense to life.
Doing so will require a more disciplined brand of hockey than what Jason Spezza described as the "scrambly" effort the Sens put out Saturday. They committed a number of penalties, including three in the first period which put them behind the eight ball early and made it difficult to get into a groove offensively.
Maple Leafs: So far the Leafs have shown offensive potential, but the defense, which was significantly bolstered in the offseason, has yet to meet expectations. Toronto gave up a goal just 77 seconds in Saturday night, eventually falling behind 6-1. While Toronto showed some fight by scoring three goals in the final period, the defensive effort in an eventual 6-4 loss was not up to par if the Leafs are to return to the postseason.
Penalties are still a concern for new defenseman Mike Komisarek, who once again sat in the box as the opposition scored, and the performance turned in by Vesa Toskala has put a question mark between the pipes. With the rival Sens coming to the ACC, Toronto will need its defense to clamp down if it wants come away with two points.
Who's Hot -- Daniel Alfredsson's point-a-game track record has stayed true to form so far, as the Ottawa captain scored his first goal of the year in Saturday's opener. Toronto's Lee Stempniak also registered his first goal of the year Saturday after scoring twice in the Leafs' preseason finale.
Injury Report -- Ottawa's Ryan Shannon is questionable with a concussion, while Phil Kessel and Mike Van Ryn are still out indefinitely for Toronto.
Stat Pack -- .571 -- In the first period Saturday, Leafs netminder Vesa Toskala surrendered three goals on the first seven shots he faced, for a not-so-robust .571 save percentage. With Swedish import Jonas Gustavsson, who stopped 16 of 19 shots in relief of Toskala, expected to challenge for the starting job at some point this season, Toskala will have to play better. If not, we may be seeing a change sooner rather than later.
Puck Drop -- It is still a young season, but both teams have concerns that would be eased by a victory. With Alfredsson and Spezza on the ice, the Sens are always a threat to put on an offensive display, but that could be difficult against what was expected to be a bruising blue line in Toronto. The Leafs need those defensemen to stay out of the penalty box and perhaps help out the forwards a little offensively in order to secure that valuable first win.
-- David Kalan, NHL.com