Senators feeling better going into game against Leafs
TORONTO — The Ottawa Senators will have revenge on their minds and the Toronto Maple Leafs will be seeking redemption when the teams play at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.
The Senators will be out to reverse a 4-2 loss at the hands of the Maple Leafs last Saturday in Ottawa. They go into the game riding the high of two wins in a row, including a 2-0 verdict over the Blue Jackets in Columbus on Thursday when goaltender Mike Condon made 42 saves in his 20th straight appearance and 11th consecutive start.
The Senators were dealing with a flu outbreak when they played the Blue Jackets.
“This was a battle for everyone,” Senators defenseman and captain Erik Karlsson said. “This is the time of year when you don’t feel your best. We kept it simple when we needed to and we created enough scoring chances to put the puck in the net.”
“A lot of guys were feeling under the weather, not just me, but as the game went on I started feeling a lot better,” said Ryan Dzingel, who scored his first goal in nine games Thursday. “Scoring and winning helps you to feel a little less sick.”
The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, had their three-game winning streak stopped with a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday night at the ACC. They had defeated the Rangers in New York 4-2 last Friday.
“We were terrible last night,” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said after the team practice on Friday. “We didn’t compete, we weren’t prepared. That’s my job. Our goaltender (Frederik Andersen) gave us a chance and we still found a way not to respond.”
Toronto was without top defenseman Morgan Rielly, who suffered a lower-body injury during the win Tuesday over the Buffalo Sabres. Rielly is listed as day to day but will not play Saturday.
“One hundred percent not available tomorrow,” Babcock said.
Defenseman Martin Marincin could return to the Leafs’ lineup on Saturday. He has been out with a lower-body injury since Dec. 10.
Frank Corrado took Rielly’s roster spot Thursday, only his second game with the Maple Leafs this season, and he was inconsistent.
Jake Gardiner took Rielly’s place on the team’s top defensive pairing with Nikita Zaitsev.
“It definitely wasn’t the way we’ve been playing,” Gardiner said of the game on Thursday. “I think we can be better in all areas. When you go down like that, it’s tough to come back. When one of your top defensemen, Morgan, goes down, it’s going to change a lot for everyone and different guys have to step up.
“Just move on and go to work on Saturday. We’ve been really hot lately and it’s probably time for a reality check.”
Ottawa received a reality check of its own Friday when it was announced that left winger Clarke MacArthur will not return this season because of a concussion.
He suffered his fourth concussion in 18 months on Sept. 25 during training camp and did not play this season. MacArthur is considered an important presence in the dressing room, which makes a trade to replace him that more difficult.
This will be the third meeting between the Maple Leafs and the Senators this season. The Senators won the season opener 5-4 on Oct. 12 in overtime, overcoming a four-goal NHL debut by Toronto’s Auston Matthews
“We’re going to be extremely hungry,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said. “Toronto’s very hot. It’s 1-1 now versus them and we’re going into their barn, hostile territory, but I think that’s what’s exciting. We’re looking forward to it.”