The Maple Leafs again hope to break out of their road-scoring funk and avoid losing eight straight games away from Toronto for the first time in 14 years Saturday night against a Senators team trying to avoid losing for the sixth time in seven games.
The Maple Leafs (8-10-3) opened this season winning their first two games away from home, but have tallied just eight goals in losing all seven road games since a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers on Oct. 15.
Toronto has been shut out three times during this skid and was on the verge of another one Friday in Buffalo before Phil Kessel(notes) scored a short-handed goal with 3:27 left in a 3-1 loss. Kessel leads the Maple Leafs with 10 goals, but Friday’s score was his first away from Toronto since Oct. 23, a span of seven games.
One of the biggest reasons the Maple Leafs are in danger of losing eight straight road games for the first time since a nine-game skid from Nov. 7-Dec. 6, 1996, is because of a virtually nonexistent power play.
Toronto failed on all six opportunities with the man advantage against the Sabres, and is 1 for 32 on the power play during the road skid.
“It’s the same ice surface,” forward Clarke MacArthur(notes) said. “We’ve got to figure it out because we have to win games on the road. We get down one or two and then everyone’s trying to do it themselves. It’s not our game to do that.”
After this game, the Maple Leafs return to Toronto, where they’ve outscored opponents 12-6 in winning three in a row, to open a three-game homestand.
The Senators (10-12-1) have scored two goals or fewer in seven of their last eight games. They were held to a single goal for the second straight game in Friday’s 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh, but did seem to play with a bit more urgency. After finishing with 20 shots or fewer in each of its previous three games, Ottawa fired a season-high 44 shots - 21 in the first period - but only Jesse Winchester(notes) beat the red-hot Marc-Andre Fleury(notes), who improved to 7-0-1 since Nov. 12.
Leclaire also played well, stopping 38 shots in his third straight start. He is 1-2-0 with a 2.03 goals-against average in those games, while starter Brian Elliott(notes) is 0-3-0 with a 6.15 GAA in his last three.
Each goalie has made a start against the Maple Leafs this season with Leclaire making 33 saves in a 5-1 road loss Oct. 9 and Elliott stopping 33 shots in a 3-2 victory in Toronto on Nov. 2. That win snapped a five-game losing streak in the series.