Maple Leafs aim to end slide in road test with Oilers
The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to end their longest losing streak of the season when they visit the Edmonton Oilers for tonight's battle at Rexall Place.
The Maple Leafs have lost four in a row -- all in regulation -- and another setback tonight would give Toronto its longest skid since an eight-game drought from Oct. 28-Nov. 13 of last season.
Toronto, which was dealt a lopsided 5-1 loss Tuesday in Calgary, cannot afford its losing streak to get any longer, as the club is hanging onto the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference by a thread. With 62 points, the Leafs are just one ahead of Washington for the East's final postseason berth.
The Leafs fired 42 shots on Tuesday night, but Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff turned aside 41 of them in the rout at the Saddledome. Tyler Bozak scored the only goal for the Maple Leafs, while Jonas Gustavsson was tagged for all five goals on 34 shots in defeat.
"We had a couple of really bad mistakes on the back end and the puck ended up in the net," Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson said.
Phil Kessel posted an assist in the loss and also registered five shots on net for the Maple Leafs, who are 12-14-2 on the road this season. Toronto is playing the middle test of a three-game swing that is set to end Saturday in Vancouver.
Toronto posted a 6-3 win over the visiting Oilers on Feb. 6 and the Leafs will try to complete the season series sweep tonight. Kessel scored twice and added an assist in the previous win for the Maple Leafs, who have taken two straight and three of four from the Oilers. Toronto has also won three of four and four of its last six games in Edmonton.
The Oilers, who are 14 points out of a playoff spot in the West, ended a two- game slide in their last game and have posted a solid 5-2-1 record over their last eight trips to the ice.
Edmonton has also won three straight on home ice to improve its record as the host to 15-8-3. Tonight's test kicks off a three-game homestand for the Oilers, who will also welcome Colorado and Vancouver before the week is done.
The Oilers earned a dramatic victory when they last played Saturday in Ottawa. Taylor Hall scored 17 seconds into overtime to lift Edmonton to a 4-3 win over the Senators. Hall led a rush in overtime, getting off an initial shot that was stopped by Craig Anderson. Shawn Horcoff then tried to whack the rebound in, but was also denied before Hall came around the net on the left side and backhanded a loose puck into the open side of the net.
Horcoff had a goal and two assists in the win, while Magnus Paajarvi and Ben Eager also scored goals. Nikolai Khabibulin had 39 saves for Edmonton.
"We pushed ourselves into the game. Kudos to our team," said Oilers coach Tom Renney. "We got it going."
The Oilers hope to get defenseman Theo Peckham back tonight after he sat out the last five games due to a facial injury suffered in practice. Fellow blueliner Corey Potter is also questionable after suffering a groin injury in Saturday's game.
Edmonton forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has still not returned to practice after re-injuring his shoulder earlier this month. The No. 1 overall pick of last summer's draft has 13 goals and 35 points in 40 games as a rookie.