The Leafs have won two of three since a three-game slide and they enter tonight with 53 points, tying them with Washington for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Toronto, of course, is trying to end the longest postseason drought in team history and hasn't qualified for the playoffs since 2004.
The Maple Leafs took care of business in the opener of this home-and-home last night in Toronto, as Jonas Gustavsson stopped all 25 shots he faced for his third shutout of the season in the 3-0 victory over the visiting Isles. Gustavsson has started the last three games for Toronto and could get the call again tonight in his team's final tilt before the All-Star break.
Matthew Lombardi scored twice on Monday and Phil Kessel also tallied for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Islanders 35-25 and weren't whistled for a single penalty in the strong home performance.
"I just had this sense, you could see it coming because he was stronger on the puck, he was confident holding onto it that I thought he's ready," said Leafs head coach Ron Wilson about Lombardi. "Pucks are going to start to go in for him and that's the sense you have, the gut feeling as coach."
Toronto has lost seven of its last nine on the road and will try to halt a four-game slide as the guest tonight. The Leafs, who are 10-11-1 as the visiting team, will also play their first game following the break on the road when they visit Pittsburgh next Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Islanders will try to regroup tonight after having a three-game winning streak halted Monday at the Air Canada Centre. New York was attempting to win four in a row for the first time this season, but will have to try and start a new hot streak this evening.
John Tavares will try to spark his club in the home part of this series after having his lengthy point streak extinguished in Monday's shutout. Tavares, who leads the Isles with 48 points, had eight goals and 13 assists during the 12- game run -- the longest such streak in the NHL this season.
Evgeni Nabokov allowed three goals on 35 shots for the Islanders, who are also playing their final tilt before the break.
New York is 11-11-3 as the host this year and will play its first two games following the break on the road, beginning with a test next Tuesday at Carolina.
The Maple Leafs have taken four of their last five meetings the Islanders and Toronto is 2-0-1 in its last three trips to Long Island.