Maple Leafs-Ducks Preview

Joffrey Lupul is one reason why the Toronto Maple Leafs continue

to play well despite an increasing number of injuries.

Lupul will face one of his former teams Sunday night when the

Maple Leafs look to win their third straight and send the Anaheim

Ducks to a seventh consecutive loss.

Toronto has a chance to close a four-game road trip with a

winning record, even as its depth continues to be challenged. The

Maple Leafs (13-8-2) defeated Dallas 4-3 in a shootout Friday for

their third win in four tries following a three-game skid.

Lupul scored the only goal in the tiebreaker and Jonas

Gustavsson made 26 saves for his third straight victory.

“It was a good win for us,” said Lupul. “We didn’t play that

well in the second period, we let them back in the game, but we

played really well in the third period and it was a hard-fought

game right to the end. Tonight it took an effort from everyone, but

we got it done.”

Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson and center David Steckel both left

with finger injuries in the second period and did not return.

Besides missing No. 1 goaltender James Reimer, Toronto is also

without defenseman Mike Komisarek and forwards Colby Armstrong,

Mike Brown, Mikhail Grabovski and Matthew Lombardi.

The Maple Leafs have weathered those injuries thanks in large

part to Phil Kessel, who leads the NHL with 16 goals, and Lupul,

who is among the league leaders with 27 points.

Lupul was acquired by Toronto in a trade with Anaheim last

February. He played his first two seasons with the Ducks, then

returned for the 2009-10 season, but was limited by a back injury

and subsequent blood infection.

A three-time 20-goal scorer, Lupul has two goals and six assists

during a five-game point streak.

The last-place Ducks (6-12-4) lost their sixth straight, giving

up four goals in the first half of the third period in a 6-5 defeat

to Chicago on Friday.

“I’m very concerned,” captain Ryan Getzlaf said. “It’s not

something we’re willing to accept around here. We’ve got to change

the mentality at the start of every period, treat it like it’s

zero-zero and learn how to win these kind of games.”

Jonas Hiller has been charged with four losses during the

six-game skid, posting a 3.88 goals-against average in his past

five appearances. He is 0-2-0 with a 5.50 GAA lifetime against the

Maple Leafs.

This is the second six-game skid of the season for the Ducks,

who have given up 24 goals during the current slide. They haven’t

lost seven in a row since dropping eight straight Nov. 3-20,

2005.

“If we had the answer we’d try to correct it,” coach Randy

Carlyle said. “It’s very frustrating and very confusing for

everyone involved.”

Corey Perry scored for the third time in four games Friday to

extend his point streak to five games. He also had an assist in the

loss for his second multipoint game this season. He had seven in

his first 22 contests last season on his way to winning the Hart

Trophy.

The Ducks have lost their last two games against the Leafs,

falling 5-2 at Toronto on Jan. 20.