NHL

Sens look to extend Leafs' misery; Canucks visit Oilers

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The Sports Network
11/2/2010 4:04:00 PM
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(Sports Network) - The Toronto Maple Leafs have cooled off considerably since an excellent start to the season, but they hope another meeting tonight against the rival Ottawa Senators can get them back on track.

The Maple Leafs are hosting Ottawa at Air Canada Centre for the second time this season and Toronto posted a dominating win the first time the clubs met on Oct. 9. The Leafs slammed the Sens, 5-1, a few weeks back to post their fifth straight victory in this series and the eighth win in 11 games against the Senators. Ottawa has also dropped three in a row and six out of seven in Toronto.

However, that win over Ottawa earlier this season came during Toronto's four-game winning streak to start the season. The Leafs are currently mired in a 1-4-1 stretch and have been shut out in each of their last two games.

Toronto was dealt a 2-0 loss in Boston on Thursday and two nights later lost by the same score against the visiting New York Rangers. Tim Thomas made 20 saves to notch the shutout for the Bruins and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 36 shots to lead the Rangers to the win on Saturday.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere was the tough-luck loser for Toronto against the Blueshirts, turning aside 22-of-24 shots for the 5-4-1 Leafs.

"If we had won tonight we're 6-3-1 and you know that's a really good start," Leafs head coach Ron Wilson said. "This (5-4-1) is an OK start and we've got a lot of work ahead of us. But I'm not discouraged at all. We're getting our opportunities; we've got to find a way to score."

Giguere has a 6-2-1 record with a 1.86 goals-against average in nine career starts against the Senators

Toronto is 3-2-1 as the host this season overall, but is 1-2-1 since winning its first two tests of the year at ACC.

The Senators were also shut out in their most recent outing, getting blanked by Thomas and the Bruins, 4-0, on Saturday. The setback dropped Ottawa to 2-2-0 on a four-game homestand and stopped the Sens from posting their first three-game winning streak of the season.

Thomas turned away all 29 shots he faced and Boston received goals from four different players to notch the win at Scotiabank Place.

Brian Elliott allowed four goals on 25 shots for Ottawa.

"It was a tough loss for sure here," said Ottawa defenseman Chris Campoli. "Especially when a division team comes into your house and shuts you down like they did tonight."

Elliott has started every game for Ottawa since Pascal Leclaire went down with a groin injury against Carolina on Oct. 14. However, Robin Lehner, who was serving as Elliott's backup, was re-assigned to Ottawa's AHL affiliate in Binghamton on Monday and it is expected Leclaire will be activated from injured reserve to fill in the reserve role to Elliott tonight. Leclaire was 0-2-1 with a 3.24 GAA before getting injured.

The Sens could also be getting defenseman Filip Kuba back in the lineup soon. The Czech veteran has missed the entire year so far with a broken right leg. Kuba, who had 28 points in just 53 games for Ottawa last year, has returned to practice, but isn't expected to compete in a game until this weekend.

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson left practice early on Monday after aggravating a lower-body injury, but head coach Cory Clouston expects the veteran winger to play tonight.


Canucks at Oilers

(Sports Network) - Still seeking their first road win of the season, Alex Burrows return to the lineup couldn't have been better timed for the Canucks.

Vancouver, aiming for a fourth straight win overall, visits Rexall Place tonight to battle an Edmonton Oilers club that is coming off its best offensive showing of the season.

The Canucks improved to 5-0-1 at home this season with last night's 3-0 triumph over the Devils. Roberto Luongo made 30 saves for his first shutout of the season and 52nd of his career, while Henrik Sedin tallied his first goal of 2010-11.

"I think in the first period we didn't really have our legs, we had a few turnovers there, but we settled in nicely after that, especially in the third," Luongo said. "I thought we played some solid hockey protecting that lead."

Raffi Torres and Ryan Kesler scored the other goals for the Canucks, who have won four out of their last six but are 0-3-1 on the road this season. They play two straight and seven of their next eight on the road.

Getting Burrows back should help. The forward missed the first 10 games of this campaign due to offseason shoulder surgery after leading the club with 35 goals last year.

Defenseman Keith Ballard returned to the lineup last night after sitting out five games with post-concussion symptoms, but fellow blueliners Ryan Parent (groin) and Dan Hamhuis (ankle) aren't expected to travel with the club to Edmonton or Colorado, where Vancouver plays on Thursday.

Luongo has been in net for all four road losses this year, posting a 4.02 goals-against average and .851 save percentage. He has lost three of his last four at Rexall Place and is 16-8-2 with a tie and 2.29 GAA lifetime when facing the Oilers.

Luongo will face an Oilers club tonight that exploded offensively in Friday's 7-4 victory over the Blackhawks to snap a six-game losing streak (0-4-2). Sam Gagner scored twice, while Nikolai Khabibulin made 37 saves.

Rookies Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle both notched a goal and assist. Hall, the top overall pick of the 2010 draft, has scored in two straight after going without a goal in his first seven NHL games, while Eberle has three goals and six points over a five-game point streak.

"We knew if we played a full 60-minute game we were going to get a win, and tonight we finally did it. It was nice to see," Hall said.

Khabibulin is 4-0-2 with a 1.78 GAA in his last six games versus the Canucks, who took four of six from the Oilers in last year's season series.

Edmonton, though, has won three of four and six of its last nine at Vancouver.



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