Series (Game 2 of 4)

New York leads 3-1

Game 1: Monday, October 12th
Maple Leafs2Final
Game 2: Saturday, October 17th
Maple Leafs1
Game 3: Saturday, March 27th
Maple Leafs3
Game 4: Wednesday, April 7th
Maple Leafs1Final

Rangers 4

(7-1-0, 14 pts)

Maple Leafs 1

(0-6-1, 1 pts)

Coverage: NHL

7:00 PM ET, October 17, 2009

Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

1 2 3 T
NYR 1 2 14
TOR 0 1 01

H. Lundqvist (Rangers - G): Saves: 34, Save Pct.: .971

M. Staal (Rangers - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

I. White (Maple Leafs - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Rangers-Maple Leafs Preview


Little has gone wrong for Marian Gaborik and the New York Rangers during their fast start. Nothing, however, has gone right for the Toronto Maple Leafs as they close on their worst start in franchise history.

The two teams, steaming in opposite directions, meet Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre where the Rangers try to extend their six-game winning streak and again deny the Maple Leafs their first victory.

Gaborik, the Rangers' top offseason signing, has paid immediate dividends for New York (6-1-0). The right wing has registered at least one point in every game, has a team-high six goals and his 10 points tie him for the team lead with Vaclav Prospal.

Prospal notched his 200th career goal with the first of his two first-period power-play tallies before assisting on Gaborik's third-period goal that sealed Tuesday's 4-2 victory over Los Angeles.

"(Gaborik's) goal was just world class, and it came at the right time," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist told the Rangers' official Web site. "That's what world-class players do. They step up at the right time."

Lundqvist has also contributed during the winning streak, New York's longest since a seven-game run from Feb. 1-March 2, 2006. He has posted a 5-0 record with a 2.20 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.

However, backup Stephen Valiquette may get the start Saturday given the Maple Leafs' struggles and Lundqvist losing four of his last five starts versus Toronto.

This is Toronto's lone game in an 11-day span as coach Ron Wilson continues to try and find the right combination to snap his team's funk.

Wilson mixed things up by benching top forwards Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman, who had five of the team's 12 goals through the first five games, and starting third-string goalie Joey MacDonald on Tuesday. The moves failed to make a difference for the Maple Leafs (0-5-1) in their 4-1 loss to Colorado that dropped them to 0-3-1 at home.

Toronto has gone seven games without a victory to start the season just once -- in 1990-91, when it lost six games and tied one.

Wilson tried to lighten the mood Thursday at practice by letting the players play dodge ball with tennis balls, and hopes Stajan and Hagman will be eager to contribute in their return.

"It wasn't necessarily about them as a message to everybody else," Wilson said after Thursday's practice. "You saw what happened with Matt last year, he came out and had a great five or six weeks after that. If he can do the same thing and we can get Hagman to relax on the ice and play the way he did for most of last season, it would be a huge shot in the arm for our offense."

Slow starts and a lack of discipline also have been a common thread in Toronto's struggles. The Maple Leafs have yet to score first in any game and allowed 10 power-play goals in 24 chances. Seven of those goals have come while trying to kill 16 penalties in the last three games.

Defenseman Daniel Girardi and Sean Avery each had two goals Monday when the Rangers routed the Leafs 7-2 in New York, prompting Wilson's shakeup.