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HOCKEY

Leafs return to action against Flames

The well-rested Toronto Maple Leafs will resume play tonight, when they host the Calgary Flames for an interconference clash at Air Canada Centre.

The Maple Leafs are 2-0-0 on the season, but haven't played since notching a 6-5 decision over visiting Ottawa last Saturday.

Toronto has once again started the year on a winning streak. The Leafs opened 2010-11 with four straight victories before eventually missing the playoffs for a sixth straight season.

The Maple Leafs are playing their first five games of this season on home ice. Ron Wilson's club was just 18-15-8 as the host last year.

Calgary, meanwhile, is capping a three-game road trip tonight and is 1-2-0 on the young season. The Flames earned their first victory of 2011-12 with Thursday's easy win in Montreal.

The Flames scored three times in the first period on Thursday en route to a 4-1 victory over the Canadiens. Rene Bourque scored a pair of goals and Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 35 shots to earn his 263rd career victory with the Flames. The victory moved the Finnish netminder past Mike Vernon for Calgary's all- time wins record.

Niklas Hagman and David Moss also scored for the Flames, who avoided their first 0-3 start since the 2007-08 season.

"We started off 0-2," said Bourque. "We didn't play well in the first two games. We had a full effort from everybody tonight and that's why we won."

Following tonight's test, the Flames will return to Alberta for a six-game homestand. The residency will begin Tuesday against the rival Edmonton Oilers.

Phil Kessel recorded a hat trick for Toronto in Saturday's high-scoring win over the Senators. It was the third career hat trick for Kessel and first since he was traded from Boston to the Leafs prior to the 2009-10 season.

Joffrey Lupul also scored and had two assists for Toronto, which tallied the game's first four goals and held a 5-1 lead shortly into the third period. But three consecutive Senators scores made it a tight game.

Kessel provided some breathing room with 2:19 to play -- a necessary score, given Ottawa rookie Stephane Da Costa scored just 25 seconds later.

"Hopefully myself and the team can keep this start going," said Kessel. "I have some good linemates and we have a good team here."

Kessel will once again be without centerman Tim Connolly, however, as the American is still battling an upper body injury that has caused him to miss both of Toronto's games. Connolly, who missed 14 games for Buffalo last season, was signed in the offseason to a two-year, $9.5 million contract.

Tyler Bozak has been centering Kessel and Lupul on the top line and the trio has combined for 10 points and a plus-10 rating through two games.

James Reimer made 32 saves in a season-opening shutout for the Leafs, but the sophomore goaltender surrendered five goals on 32 shots last Saturday against Ottawa. The 23-year-old has never faced Calgary.

Toronto forward Clarke MacArthur is eligible to return tonight after serving a suspension for delivering a hit to Detroit's Justin Abdelkader in the preseason. MacArthur was banned for one exhibition game and the first two tests of the regular season.

Calgary beat Toronto twice last season and the Flames have taken four straight, five of six and six of the last eight meetings in this series. The Flames have also won their last two at Air Canada Centre, but Toronto has still claimed 14 of the last 17 encounters on home ice.