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

Saturday.”

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

(Thursday).”

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

over Florida.

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

the Leafs.