Armstrong, Liles expected back as Leafs host Pens on TSN

The Sports Network, with files from TSN
2/1/2012 1:10:53 PM
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(Sports Network) - The Toronto Maple Leafs will have a much different look tonight when they host the back half of a home-and-home series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

James Reimer is expected to start in goal, Colby Armstrong and John-Michael Liles are expected to return to the line-up after lengthy absences, and both Nazem Kadri and Keith Aulie have been demoted to the AHL's Toronto Marlies.

You can see all the action on TSN, TSN.ca, and TSN Mobile TV beginning at 7:30pm et/4:30pm pt. Fans can also join the TSN.ca Game Night Blog and talk hockey during the game.

The wholesale changes come a day after the Leafs blew a three-goal, third period lead and lost to the Penguins 5-4 in a shootout.

Reimer will play for just the second time in 2012. He last appeared on Jan. 17 in a 3-2 home loss to the Ottawa Senators.

Armstrong has been limited to just nine games this season with a concussion and foot injuries, and hasn't played since Dec. 17. Liles had been on injured reserve with a concussion and neck issues and has missed Toronto's last 16 games.

The returning players will provide a boost to a Toronto team that sits eighth in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Florida Panthers.

Mikhail Grabovski scored twice and had an assist for the Maple Leafs in their loss on Tuesday, giving him eight points in his past three games. Jonas Gustavsson allowed four goals on 35 shots in defeat.

"Tough loss," said Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul. "We had the game and then we let them back in."

The Penguins and Maple Leafs have now split two meetings so far this year after Toronto notched a 4-3 home win back on Oct. 29. Pittsburgh has lost two straight and five of its last eight as the guest in this series.

The Penguins carried a season-best seven-game win streak into last night's meeting, one that comes on the heels of six straight losses from Dec. 29-Jan. 11, and looked as if the run would come to an end when goals by the Maple Leafs' Tyler Bozak and Clarke MacArthur scored 19-seconds apart in the third staked Toronto to a 4-1 lead.

However, Pittsburgh countered with goals from Steve Sullivan and Joe Vitale to close the gap and got the game-tying score when James Neal's shot deflected off Evgeni Malkin's shoulder and in with 6.6 ticks left in regulation.

Malkin was credited with his 27th goal of the season -- tied for the second- most in the league -- and his NHL-leading 59th point before scoring the only goal of the shootout. The sniper now has nine goals and 29 assists in 18 career games versus the Maple Leafs.

Neal, meanwhile, has three goals and eight points over a five-game point streak.

Marc-Andre Fleury, in his career-high 23rd straight start, made 35 saves and closed the door in the shootout. He has been in net for each contest of the eight-game win streak, Pittsburgh's longest since a 12-game run last year, and has posted a 2.27 goals-against average and .916 save percentage.

"I guess you got to win a lot of different ways, but I'm not sure we deserved the fate we got tonight," Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said. "We'll take the win."

Pittsburgh sits fifth in the East, two points behind Philadelphia, and begins a four-game swing tonight looking to extend a season-high four-game road winning streak.

Colby Armstrong (Photo: Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)


(Photo: Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

TSN's Game Notes

TOR has gone 2-0-2 over their past 4 games vs PIT

PIT has gone 3-1-1 over their past 5 games in TOR

7 of the past 9 games between the teams have been decided by 1G

TOR has gone 2-0-1 over their past 3 games, scoring 11G

TOR has gone 2-1-0 over their past 3 home games, going 1/11 on the PP

TOR has gone 17/17 on the PK over their past 12 games

Reimer has one start in 2012 (Jan 17) he has gone 0-2-1 over his past 4 starts with a .867sv%

Grabovski has 3G, 5A over the past 3 games

PIT has won 8 straight games, 4 of the past 6 in a shootout

PIT has won 4 straight on the road, outscoring their opponent 16-7

Fleury has won 4 straight on the road with a .937sv%

Johnson's last 2 starts, Jan 10 and Dec 16, both vs OTT, pulled in both games

Malkin has 10G, 4A over the past 8 games

For games notes for all of tonight's games, click here.

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