Flyers-Maple Leafs Preview
Owners of the fewest points in the NHL, the Toronto Maple Leafs have won just four of their past 18 games. One of them, however, came against the Philadelphia Flyers.
With their top scorer suspended, the Maple Leafs will try to win a third straight meeting with the Flyers for the first time in over seven years Saturday night.
Toronto (20-27-9) dropped to 4-12-2 in its last 18 games with Thursday's 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers. The Maple Leafs held a 37-20 shots advantage but gave up the decisive goal with 1:31 left in regulation.
"No one is happy with losing, it sucks the life out of your group," coach Mike Babcock said. "It's hard to re-energize yourself. When everything is going good in your life, and you know it yourself, things are going good and it's easy to get up in the morning and life is great. Sometimes when it's not, it's a little harder, you've got to be mentally tougher.
"Let's suck it up and play hard."
Matt Hunwick scored with 7.5 seconds left in regulation to give Toronto a 3-2 win at Philadelphia on Jan. 19.
That victory has the Maple Leafs in position to beat the Flyers in a third straight meeting for the first time since doing it over two seasons in 2008.
Matching that stretch will be tougher without Leo Komarov, the team leader with career highs of 18 goals and 35 points. The center will serve the first of a three-game suspension for elbowing Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the head. He was assessed a match penalty on the play.
Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau is second on the team with 15 goals, scoring one in each of the last two games. He had an assist at Philadelphia, giving him four points over his last three meetings.
Jonathan Bernier will be back in net after making 16 saves Thursday. He's 0-5-1 with a 3.64 goals-against average in his last six appearances, but stopped 47 shots - one off his career high - in a 3-2 home win over the Flyers on Feb. 26.
"As a goalie, you can't control if you win or lose, you've just got to make sure you do your job," Bernier said. "Hopefully by doing that you get some wins."
The Flyers (25-21-11) have dropped six of their last eight after Friday's 3-2 shootout defeat at Montreal.
Philadelphia has dropped six of eight games that have gone to the tiebreaker.
"Those are important points. We know that," coach Dave Hakstol told the team's official website. "If we could flip a switch and change it and turn it, we would.
"I do believe a lot of it, as you go through a shootout, is feeling confident and going out there with a clear mind. For that to happen we've got to have some success a couple of shootouts in a row."
Confidence shouldn't be a problem for Shayne Gostisbehere, who has 17 points during a 14-game streak to set an NHL record for a rookie defenseman. The stretch started with a goal against the Leafs, and he kept it going with an assist on Michael Raffl's goal Friday.
Flyers leading scorer Glaude Giroux has gone a season-high eight games without a goal, but he has four in his last five against Toronto.