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Struggling Sens, Leafs battle in Toronto

by Adam Kimelman
SENATORS (4-6-1) at MAPLE LEAFS (5-4-1)

Last 10 -- Senators 4-5-1; Leafs 5-4-1

Season series -- This is the second of six meetings between the Northeast Division rivals. On Oct. 9, Leafs forward Kris Versteeg had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick to lead Toronto to a 5-1 win at Air Canada Centre.

Big Story -- Both teams will be looking to rediscover their offense. The Senators were shut out by Boston, 4-0, on Saturday, while the Leafs will try to score for the first time in three games, following back-to-back shutout losses to the Bruins and Rangers last week.

Team Scope:
Senators -- There was good and bad news for the team Monday. The good was the return to practice of defenseman Filip Kuba and goalie Pascal Leclaire. Leclaire has missed more than two weeks with a groin injury, but will be Brian Elliott's backup Tuesday and could start a game next week.

Kuba, who hasn't played after breaking his leg in the preseason, could return to the lineup as soon as Thursday.

The bad, however, was team captain and leading scorer Daniel Alfredsson had to leave practice early after tweaking a pre-existing lower-body injury. Coach Cory Clouston wouldn't specify the injury, but said he expects Alfredsson to play Tuesday.

"He's not 100 percent and he knows his body better than anybody," Clouston told reporters following practice. "He felt a little tweak, a lower-body (injury) but he should be fine for (Tuesday)."

Maple Leafs -- When the Leafs take the ice Tuesday, it will mark one week since their last goal. Back-to-back shutouts against the Bruins and Rangers ran their goal drought to 122:24, dating to a 3-1 win Oct 26 against the Panthers.

"We've got to just find a way around the front of the net," coach Ron Wilson told the Toronto Sun. "Be sharper, be ready, think like a goal-scorer. We've got a lot of guys on our team ... who don't have a resume that says they've scored anywhere. We've only got two or three guys who feel comfortable with some scoring chances. Other guys, maybe they get a little nervous when they're in tight."

The players in the Toronto locker room believe the solution to the problem is a look in the mirror.

"No one's going to come in and help us get out of this," captain Dion Phaneuf told the Sun. "It's the guys that are in this room that are going to get us out of this and we're confident we will."

Who's Hot -- Ottawa's ageless captain, Daniel Alfredsson, has 5 goals and 7 points in his last five games. … Leafs center Tyler Bozak has just 1 goal this season, but he's been pretty good against the Senators in the past. Last season, he had 4 points and a plus-3 rating in three games against Ottawa, his best numbers against any opponent.

Injury Report -- The Senators will be without forward Milan Michalek, who has tendinitis in his left knee. Kuba won't play Tuesday, but he's close to returning. Alfredsson is questionable Tuesday, but it would be surprising to see him sit out a Maple Leafs game. … The only missing Leaf is forward Colby Armstrong, who isn't expected back for at least another month following surgery to repair a broken finger.

Stat Pack -- The 13 goals scored by Phil Kessel (7) and Clarke MacArthur (6) are three more than the rest of the Maple Leafs' roster has scored. Of that group, only Tim Brent and Colton Orr have more than 1 goal.

Puck Drop -- Ottawa GM Bryan Murray believes Nick Foligno has the ability to be a top-six forward, but 3 assists in 11 games haven't been what either is looking for.

"He has to get some points," Murray told the Ottawa Sun. "As I said to him, I think I've tried to go to bat for him with the coaches. To make sure he gets the opportunity, ice-time wise and with linemates. I just want him to take advantage of that. That's all."

Murray also wants Foligno not to start pressing because he sees the big zero in the goal column.

"It is frustrating," Foligno told the Sun of his drought. "I want to be able to score for this team. I believe in myself still. I'm not to the point where confidence is at an all-time low. I've got to make sure I put myself in those areas that are allowing me to score goals. … They're coming. I'd be more mad if I didn't have chances ... I think it's going to be sooner rather than later."
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