Oilers looking to cool off Maple Leafs

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The Edmonton Oilers put their third-period struggles behind them Saturday while defeating the Boston Bruins. They will try to make it a trend when they visit the surging Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night.

The Oilers had been outscored 9-1 in the third period in four games before their 4-1 victory over the host Bruins. Edmonton outscored Boston 2-0 in the third.

It took a big effort from Oilers goaltender Mike Smith, who made 21 of his 35 saves in the third period.

"That's the way we need to play every night," Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse said.

"The way we played that third period was simple and direct and things opened up for us. That's the way we need to play. This was a really good game for us; we did a lot of good things. This is a game we can reflect on when we move on to the next challenge."

The Maple Leafs will provide that next challenge. With backup Michael Hutchinson in goal, Toronto earned a 3-0 victory over the visiting New York Islanders on Saturday night. Hutchinson has won three consecutive starts after opening the season 0-5-1.

The Maple Leafs are 9-0-1 in their past 10 games and 15-4-1 since Sheldon Keefe replaced Mike Babcock as coach.

The Maple Leafs missed setting a club record when they failed to score at least four goals Saturday, ending the streak at nine games. But Keefe did become the first Maple Leafs coach with 15 wins in his first 20 games. Hap Day was 14-5-1 to open the 1940-41 season.

"We're still not close to where I think we can get to," Keefe said. "I think we've got a lot of room to grow as a team."

Maple Leaf successes under Keefe include a 4-1 road victory over the Oilers on Dec. 14.

Toronto has scored the first goal in 15 of 20 games under Keefe.

But he feels there can be improvement "in all areas," starting with coming out of their own end.

"I think that can improve," Keefe said.

"I think being good and diligent in games like this (Saturday) ... it's a low-event game and not much happening. You can still defend well enough to give ourselves enough time to wait for our chance to come. Special teams, all those types of things, I think, can go a long way. But that's not to say we didn't have positives because there certainly is. We've been doing a lot of really good things."

The Oilers are 1-0-1 to start a five-game road trip.

"December wasn't really good for us, but now we're trying to get our game back in order," Oilers coach Dave Tippett said.

"Boston is one of the better teams in the East. When you come in and play a good road game and beat a good team in Boston, it can help your team's confidence. So hopefully we see that going forward. We've got three out of four points on a tough road trip, so we have to continue playing like we have and see if we can get the same results."

Frederik Andersen is expected to return to the Maple Leafs' goal Monday. Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen, who was ill for the game in Boston, is expected to be available in Toronto.

--Field Level Media