Leafs hope to continue surge in home tilt vs. Sens

( - The Toronto Maple Leafs closed January by winning eight of its last 10 games of the month. The club will try to continue its hot play and open February on a positive note when the Leafs welcome the rival Ottawa Senators for Saturday's clash at Air Canada Centre.

The Maple Leafs have posted an 8-1-1 record over its last 10 games, a stretch that has helped move Toronto into third place in the Atlantic Division. The top-three clubs in each division earn an automatic bid to the postseason.

Toronto has won its last two games on the heels of an 0-1-1 stretch and the Leafs registered a 6-3 win over the Florida Panthers in their last trip to the ice on Thursday. Toronto, which is 19-10-1 as the host this season, can complete a three-game homestand with a perfect record with another victory tonight.

Mason Raymond and James van Riemsdyk scored 31 seconds apart early in the second period to give Toronto the lead for good in the win over the Panthers.

Toronto scored five straight goals after going down 2-0 in the first period. Jonathan Bernier had 35 saves in the victory, including 15 in the second period.

The Leafs cut the deficit to 2-1 on a goal from Cody Franson with 3:11 left in the first. Raymond scored just 27 seconds into the second stanza and van Riemsdyk followed with a power-play tally at the 58-second mark of the middle period.

"We didn't have the start we wanted but to score three goals back-to-back like that was huge," said Bernier.

Nikolai Kulemin, Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak also scored for the Maple Leafs, who pushed their home winning streak to five games. Lupul and van Riemsdyk both added an assist and Nazem Kadri had three helpers.

Ottawa enters Saturday's Atlantic Division battle on a two-game win streak and the club has a solid 9-2-3 record over the last 14 games. The recent surge has the Senators one point out of a spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Senators last played on Thursday when they recorded a 5-3 home victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bobby Ryan and Kyle Turris each had a goal and an assist to lead the way in the victory at Canadian Tire Centre.

Marc Methot, Erik Karlsson and Zack Smith also lit the lamp for Ottawa, while Craig Anderson made 35 saves.

"I really enjoyed the game. We got scoring from all three of our forward lines," said Senators coach Paul MacLean. "In the third period we gave them a shorthanded goal and they come back, get the goalie out -- took a lot of courage for them to do that -- and they got one more out of it. But I thought at the end of the day we were better."

Ottawa is 12-9-5 as the visiting team this season and is beginning a three- game road trip tonight. The Sens will visit Pittsburgh on Monday before closing the swing Tuesday in St. Louis.

The Sens are 0-0-2 against Toronto in 2013-14, losing a pair of shootout decisions to begin the season series. The Maple Leafs have won five straight and eight of the past nine meetings overall and Ottawa has lost in its past three trips to Air Canada Centre.