Ray Emery is playing some of his best hockey of the season. Not coincidentally, so are the Ottawa Senators.
Emery goes for his third consecutive shutout and the Senators try to push their winning streak to four games overall as they play their provincial archrivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs, at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday.
The 24-year-old netminder is riding back-to-back shutouts for the first time in his career following Ottawa's 1-0 Friday win over the New York Rangers. Emery made 23 of his 27 saves in the final two periods, and the Senators (20-18-1) successfully killed off six penalties, including a charging major assessed to Chris Neil.
"It's pretty cool," said Emery, whose scoreless streak is 141 minutes and 10 seconds. "I've never done it in this league before and it's been a long time since I've done it at all. It definitely helps the stats out."
With leading scorer Jason Spezza and second-line center Mike Fisher both out indefinitely due to injuries, the Senators have taken a more defensive-minded approach and won the last two games despite totaling only three goals.
Ottawa is scoring 3.15 goals per game this season.
"I thought we battled hard all night long, we got into some penalty trouble early but we did some good things and Ray played real well," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, whose goal 32 seconds into the game accounted for the scoring.
Alfredsson, who incurs the wrath of the crowd with every touch of the puck in Toronto, has just one point in four games against the Maple Leafs this season after totaling eight goals and nine assists in the eight games between the Northeast Division rivals in 2005-06.
The veteran has 18 goals and 44 points in 45 lifetime contests versus Toronto.
The Maple Leafs (17-17-5) are trying to snap out of a slump that has seen them lose four of their last five games, including a 4-1 defeat to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. Mats Sundin scored the lone goal for Toronto, which continued to struggle on the power play and allowed three man-advantage goals.
"We just can't stay out of the penalty box," Toronto coach Paul Maurice said after his team took 13 penalties.
Toronto has yielded nine power-play goals in the last five games, and Friday's loss marked the seventh time in the last 15 games it has given up at least two.
"You can't commit that many penalties," admitted Sundin. "I thought we played a good game 5-on-5, but when you take that many penalties, even if you play well 5-on-5, they're going to score 5-on-3 or 5-on-4."
Sundin's next goal will be his 513th, moving him into 30th place on the all-time list ahead of Gil Perreault. He has six goals and eight assists in his last nine games.
Right wing Darcy Tucker, who has a team-high 19 goals, is expected to miss his second straight game after suffering a bruised foot in Tuesday's win over Minnesota.
Ottawa has won three of the four games between the teams this season and outscored Toronto 13-4 in a home-and-home sweep on Oct. 24 and 26. The Leafs have lost five of their last six to the Senators at the Air Canada Centre, getting outscored 26-12 in those games.