Maple Leafs-Senators Preview
With the burden of an extended losing streak behind them, the
Toronto Maple Leafs can shift their focus solely on their
improvement moving forward.
Toronto seeks a fifth consecutive victory over the host Ottawa
Senators when the rivals meet Saturday night.
The Maple Leafs (15-11-3) were mired in a five-game skid before
Trevor Smith scored in overtime to beat Dallas 3-2 on Thursday.
Nazem Kadri scored twice and Jonathan Bernier made 48 saves for his
first win since Nov. 19.
Toronto was outshot for the 10th straight game.
”We had to break it,” Smith said. ”We haven’t been playing
well, and I don’t think we put together 60 minutes at all
(Thursday). But with Bernier playing over his head for us and
giving us a chance to win, that’s all we can ask for.”
Coach Randy Carlyle hopes the victory can help the Leafs get
mentally prepared for a tough upcoming stretch. After Saturday’s
contest, they’ll face Boston, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago and
Pittsburgh in succession.
”Hopefully they feel good and we can flush what’s been going
on,” Carlyle said. ”We just think that it’s time for this group
to take a deep breath and go to work and get ourselves ready for
Toronto has won seven of the last eight meetings with Ottawa,
and Kadri has been a big reason for the recent success in the
series. The forward has scored in four straight meetings –
including his second career hat trick March 30 – and has totaled
six goals and two assists during that stretch.
Kadri had a goal and assist while Bernier stopped all 15 shots
he faced in more than 30 minutes of relief of James Reimer in a 5-4
shootout win over the Senators on Oct. 5.
It’s unclear if Bernier will be in net for this matchup, but
Kadri would be more than supportive if he gets the nod.
”I’m not that impressed anymore because (Bernier has played
well) night in and night out,” Kadri said. “He’s been a great
contributor to this team. Our goalie needs to make a couple big
saves for us to get the win, and that’s exactly what happened
Toronto has won four of the last five road meetings with Ottawa,
which has dropped seven of 10 after Thursday’s 3-1 loss at Tampa
Bay. Patrick Wiercioch scored the team’s only goal.
”We’re just finding ways to lose,” Wiercioch said. ”We know
we can be a better team and be more consistent, and we haven’t
proven that yet.”
Captain Jason Spezza expressed similar thoughts about the
Senators (11-14-4), who have lost four straight at home.
”We were just not good enough,” said Spezza, who has just one
goal over his last 10. ”I think we were playing too cautious, and
in turn I don’t think we played with enough confidence. When you
play cautious like that and don’t play with enough confidence,
that’s why we’re losing games.
“We have to be a more-attacking team. We have to believe in
ourselves more than we do.”
Robin Lehner made 19 saves Thursday, though Craig Anderson could
be back in net for this contest. Anderson allowed four goals in
four straight starts before stopping 30 shots in Tuesday’s 4-2 win
He made 38 saves in the last meeting with Toronto, dropping to
0-3-1 with a 3.68 goals-against average over his last four against