Oilers-Maple Leafs Preview


James Reimer just wants to contribute. Recently, he's been the driving force behind the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Sam Gagner's staggering scoring production is doing the same for the Edmonton Oilers.

Reimer should get a shot to give the Maple Leafs a third consecutive shutout for the first time in over 81 years when they face Gagner and the surging Oilers on Monday night at Air Canada Centre.

Reimer, 23, became Toronto's No. 1 goaltender last season, going 20-10-5 with a 2.60 goals-against average as a rookie. Concussion-like symptoms and inconsistencies have prevented him from maintaining his status in 2011-12.

That appears to be changing after a 12-game stretch that included 3-5-3 record and 3.21 GAA after returning from his injury.

Reimer has stopped all 74 shots he's faced over the last two games, leading the Maple Leafs (27-19-6) to a 1-0 win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday and a 5-0 romp at Ottawa on Saturday. Those performances, which included a career-high 49 saves versus the Senators, give him three shutouts on the season to match his rookie total.

The All-Star break enabled Reimer to regroup.

"I really wanted to step it up a bit and the only way I know how is to work hard and do what I think is right and so I went home and got in a little better shape (during the All-Star break)," said Reimer, who would be facing Edmonton (21-26-5) for the first time. "I never could have guessed that it would come with back-to-back shutouts. That's a lot of fun to experience."

While Reimer has Toronto in position to go for its longest string of shutouts since a five-game run from Nov. 13-22, 1930, Gagner and the Oilers will try to spoil that bid in an effort to win a fourth straight game.

Gagner has six goals and six assists over the last three games, a stretch that includes tying a franchise record with eight points in an 8-4 win over Chicago on Thursday. He followed that up with two goals and one assist before scoring again in the shootout of Saturday's 5-4 win versus Detroit.

"Sam has been a lot of fun to watch," rookie center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said Saturday. "I'm really happy for him. It was a big character win for us."

Gagner's scoring outburst has been a welcome change after he managed just one point in the previous eight games to the Oilers' winning streak. He has 11 goals and 22 assists on the season, and two goals and two assists in six meetings with Toronto.

"I'm just feeling way better about how I am playing," Gagner said. "I want the puck. I want to be the guy."

Phil Kessel was that guy again for the Maple Leafs, scoring one goal and assisting on two more Saturday. The All-Star right wing leads Toronto with 27 goals and is tied with Joffrey Lupul with a team-leading 54 points.

Kessel has four goals and two assists in his last four games against Edmonton, including one of each in a 4-1 road victory Dec. 14, 2010.

The Maple Leafs lost 5-0 in the last meeting at Air Canada Centre on Dec. 2, 2010.