Series (Game 6 of 6)

Toronto leads 4-2

Game 1: Tuesday, October 6th
Maple Leafs1
Game 2: Tuesday, November 17th
Maple Leafs2Final
Game 3: Monday, December 14th
Maple Leafs3
Game 4: Saturday, February 6th
Maple Leafs5
Game 5: Saturday, March 6th
Maple Leafs2Final
Game 6: Tuesday, March 16th
Maple Leafs4Final

Maple Leafs 4

(24-34-12, 60 pts)

Senators 1

(37-28-5, 79 pts)

7:30 PM ET, March 16, 2010

Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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

J. Gustavsson (Maple Leafs - G): Saves: 30, Save Pct.: .968

P. Kessel (Maple Leafs - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

C. Gunnarsson (Maple Leafs - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

Maple Leafs-Senators Preview


A lackluster stretch of play has the Ottawa Senators scrambling for victories in a crowded Eastern Conference playoff race.

Their recent meetings with the East's worst club, however, have only provided defeats.

The Toronto Maple Leafs hope to close the season series Tuesday night with a fourth straight victory against their Ontario rivals, while also sending the Senators to their first three-game home losing streak since October.

Ottawa (37-27-5) was perhaps the NHL's hottest club going into the Olympic break, winning 14 of 16 -- including a franchise-record 11 straight.

But that seems like a distant memory now that the Senators have totaled eight goals while going 1-4-1 since the break. They've scored more than one goal only once in that stretch, against NHL-worst Edmonton, and they were outshot 35-14 during a 5-1 loss at Vancouver on Saturday.

"We've tried to do too much," forward Alex Kovalev told the Senators' official Web site. "We have to simplify our game. I think the most important thing is we have to believe in the things we do out on the ice. We're just not confident with the puck."

After briefly overtaking Buffalo for the Northeast Division lead, the Senators have slipped three points behind the Sabres, who have two games in hand. While Ottawa remains in fifth place in the East, Philadelphia and Montreal are both three points back.

"We just have to play a little bit more urgent," Ottawa coach Cory Clouston said. "(Before the break), we were playing like we had something to lose and we built up such -- I don't want to say a big cushion for playoffs -- but we relaxed a little bit. We've got to start treating these games like playoff games."

Toronto (23-34-12) has long been out of the playoff picture, but that hasn't stopped the Leafs from playing well against their provincial neighbors.

Since Dec. 14, Toronto is 3-0-0 against the Senators and 9-20-5 against every other team. The Leafs beat Ottawa 5-0 at home on Feb. 6, then earned a 2-1 shootout win in Canada's capital city exactly one month later.

That was the Senators' most recent home game, and their second consecutive home loss after they won their previous seven at Scotiabank Place. Ottawa's last three-game skid at home was from Oct. 22-31.

While the Leafs' win at Ottawa was one of three victories in their last 21 road games, Toronto has been playing better in general lately.

The Leafs had won three straight overall for the first time all season before a 4-1 loss at the New York Islanders on Sunday. After going 3 for 8 on the power play in a 6-4 win over Edmonton the previous night, Toronto came up empty on seven chances with the man advantage.

"When you get a lot of opportunities on the power play, you need to take advantage of it," goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. "We're a team that has a lot of speed to draw penalties. We need to find a way to create traffic in front, get dirty and score some big goals."

Giguere blanked Ottawa with 30 saves in the Leafs' 5-0 win last month -- his second consecutive shutout after joining Toronto. But he's 1-5-1 with a 3.38 goals-against average since, and Jonas Gustavsson could start Tuesday.

Gustavsson has won three straight starts for the Leafs, including the 2-1 victory at Ottawa earlier this month. He made 22 saves before stopping both of the Senators' shootout attempts.

Ottawa's Pascal Leclaire is 2-0-1 with a 1.46 GAA this season against Toronto, while teammate Brian Elliott has gone 0-2-0 with a 4.28 GAA versus the Leafs.