TORONTO, ON - The Edmonton Oilers visit Toronto tonight to kick off a six-game road trip. They'll be playing a Maple Leafs team that has lost 11 straight games (0-10-1) and are playing their second game in two nights after a 4-1 loss in New Jersey on Friday night.
Oilers interim head coach Todd Nelson expects the best out of the home team tonight.
“I expect a desperate hockey team," he said. "A hungry hockey team. Right now I’m just focused on how we’re going to play. We had a bit of a setback against Pittsburgh at home and we’re hoping to come into tonight and rebound.”
Viktor Fasth makes his third straight start tonight for the Oilers. He was between the pipes last game -- a 2-0 loss at home against the Penguins.
“I think Viktor’s earned the right to start tonight," said Nelson. "He’s been pretty consistent the last six games, where he’s given us a chance to win. The games we have lost, we just haven’t given him goal support. I think that once again he’s earned it and he’s feeling pretty confident right now. That’s why we made that decision.”
Fasth credits the play of the entire team to his recent success.
“I think the whole team, we’ve been playing with more confidence lately here," said Fasth. "The last game was a setback but I think we bounced back in the third period there and came out strong. I think that’s what we have to keep doing tonight, bring that third period from the start tonight.”
PURCELL TO THE TOP LINE
Teddy Purcell will be playing on the top line tonight with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. Coach Nelson said he felt that it was a good fit for Purcell.
“He’s a smart player. He’s a guy that thinks the game well. I think he’ll complement both Nuge and Ebs. We’re going to try it out. If it’s not working we can make a change but right now I like the way it fits. Yesterday’s practice they looked good together.
“I think Teddy’s a pretty relaxed guy. If anyone knows him, he’s pretty laid back,” Nelson continued. “He’s getting a great opportunity with these guys and hopefully it fits.”
Defenceman Martin Marincin was called up on Thursday and will play for the team for the first time since November 25. Coach Nelson expects a simple game from him.
“If Marty keeps it simple, he’s very effective. He has a great stick. He’s a guy that can skate very well and he can make plays as well. We’re just looking for a good, solid game. The biggest thing is intensity in front of the net and in the corners,” he said.
Marincin added that he's been working towards this goal and hopes he sticks with the big club this time around.
“I’m trying every day this season to be here so now I have a chance and I will try 100% to play well,” said Marincin.
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (14-29-9) at MAPLE LEAFS (22-27-4)
Season series: The Toronto Maple Leafs won twice last season against the Edmonton Oilers and have defeated them in five straight dating to the 2010-11 season. Toronto's Phil Kessel had two goals and two assists, and James Reimer made 43 saves in a 4-0 win on Oct. 29, 2013.
Oilers team scope: This is the start of a six-game road trip for Edmonton, which has won three of its past four away from Rexall Place. "We've been beating some good teams, and that gives guys confidence," defenseman Mark Fayne told the Oilers website. Forwards Taylor Hall (leg) and Benoit Pouliot (foot), who missed a 2-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, remain day-to-day, interim coach Todd Nelson said Friday. Pouliot is closer to returning, Nelson said, but he termed each highly unlikely to play. Defenseman Martin Marincin, recalled from Oklahoma City of the American Hockey League on Thursday, is a strong possibility to be in the lineup; he has one assist in 12 NHL games this season. Edmonton's last win in the series was 5-0 at Air Canada Centre on Dec. 2, 2010.
Maple Leafs team scope: Air Canada Centre was the site of Toronto's last win, 5-2 on Jan. 9 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Maple Leafs are 0-10-1 since, including a 4-1 loss at the New Jersey Devils on Friday. They've been held to one goal or fewer for nine times in that span and have 11 total goals. Tyler Bozak scored on the power play for his first goal in 11 games. Goalie Jonathan Bernier is the likely starter after Reimer faced the Devils and made 13 saves. Reimer told TSN Radio 1050 the Maple Leafs have to play with more resolve. "We need to smarten up and play the way we can, with passion and like men," he said.