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HOCKEY

Leafs hope to extend win streak in clash with surging Oilers

The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to post a third straight shutout when they host the surging Edmonton Oilers in an interconference clash tonight at Air Canada Centre.

The Maple Leafs have received terrific goaltending from James Reimer in their last two trips to the ice and hope to continue that trend tonight. The goaltender cooled off red-hot Pittsburgh by stopping all 25 shots in a 1-0 home victory on Wednesday and then posted a 49-save effort in Saturday's 5-0 rout Saturday in Ottawa.

Reimer's start against the Penguins was his first since Jan. 17 and his second of the 2012 calendar year. The second-year backstop figures to get the call over Jonas Gustavsson tonight and Reimer will enter this evening's game with a shutout streak of 138 minutes, 36 seconds.

Reimer stopped 12 shots in the first period, 21 in the second and 16 in the third to record his third shutout of the season and sixth of his career in Saturday's blowout over the Senators.

"It's obviously a lot of fun," Reimer said after the shutout in Ottawa. "I wish I could take credit for it, but the guys played unbelievable tonight. Our D-men played great, boxing guys out."

Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel each posted a goal and two assists for the Maple Leafs, who have won four of their last five and enter tonight as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference with 60 points. Toronto is two points ahead of Washington for the conference's final postseason berth.

The Maple Leafs have won two straight and three of their last four home games and are boasting a 15-8-4 record at Air Canada Centre this season.

Edmonton comes into Toronto with three straight wins and the Oilers have posted 16 total goals over that stretch. The young club has also recorded a point in five straight (4-0-1), but the Oilers are still 11 points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Oilers' latest triumph came Saturday against visiting Detroit, as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins netted the game-winning goal in the sixth round of the shootout to lift Edmonton to the 5-4 decision over the Red Wings at Rexall Place.

For Nugent-Hopkins, it was his first game back since he suffered a left shoulder injury on January 2. The No. 1 overall pick did not have a point in regulation or overtime, but he was able to end the game in the shootout. Nugent-Hopkins picked up the puck at center ice and went in deliberately on Wings goalie Joey MacDonald. Nugent-Hopkins faked forehand-backhand and fired a quick wrist shot to the blocker side of MacDonald.

Devan Dubnyk stopped Danny Cleary on Detroit's final attempt to seal the win for the Oilers, who broke a seven-game slide against the Red Wings.

"I think we started out really strong and came out flying," Nugent-Hopkins said. "In the third period, we knew they were going to come out strong, we just had to weather that storm. They got a few good goals but in the end I thought it was a really good character win for us."

Coming off an amazing eight-point game in an 8-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, Sam Gagner continued his offensive assault on the NHL with two goals and an assist in regulation. Jordan Eberle also added a pair of goals for the Oilers, who got 35 saves from Dubnyk en route to their first three-game winning streak since a six-game run from Oct. 22-Nov. 3.

The Oilers have lost six straight on the road and will try to end that streak when they open a three-game swing tonight. Edmonton is just 6-18-2 as the guest this year compared to a 15-8-3 mark at home and the Oilers will also visit Detroit and Ottawa on this trek.

Edmonton defenseman Theo Peckham has missed the last two games after getting hit in the face with a puck during practice. His concussion tests came back negative and he could play this evening against the Leafs.

Toronto has won two of three against the Oilers and the clubs haven't faced off since the Leafs posted a 4-1 decision in Edmonton on Dec. 14, 2010. The Oilers recorded a 5-0 triumph when the teams last battled in Toronto on Dec. 2, 2010.