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Senators-Maple Leafs Preview

Nov 2, 2010 - 2:25 AM
By ALAN FERGUSON STATS Writer

Ottawa (4-6-1) at Toronto (5-4-1), 7:00 p.m. EDT

The Toronto Maple Leafs' scoring woes reached a new low over the past few days. They'll now try to avoid matching some dubious team history.

Toronto hasn't endured three consecutive shutouts in nearly 84 years and will try to steer clear of that with a sixth straight win over the visiting Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.

The Maple Leafs outscored opponents 16-9 while winning their first four games but have been outscored 14-7 during their current 1-4-1 stretch. That includes a scoring drought that surpassed 122 minutes in Saturday's 2-0 loss to the New York Rangers.

After losing 2-0 in Boston on Thursday, Toronto (5-4-1) outshot New York 36-24.

"We're getting lots of chances," center Tim Brent said. "Guys are just a little bit snake-bitten right now. We're not pushing the panic button. We're doing a lot of things well."

The Maple Leafs haven't been blanked in three straight games since Dec. 14-20, 1926, when they were playing as the Toronto St. Patricks.

Facing the Senators (4-6-1) might help them avoid another shutout.

Ottawa has been outscored 18-5 in its last five matchups with Toronto, falling 5-1 at Air Canada Centre on Oct. 9. Clarke MacArthur, Phil Kessel and Kris Versteeg each had a goal and an assist in that win, which saw Toronto take a 2-0 lead in the first eight minutes.

"They've come out hard the last couple of times we've played there and kind of let them dictate the pace of the play," Ottawa center Jason Spezza said. "When we've had success there, we've started out well and tried to take the crowd out of it. The first 10 minutes should be a big focus for us."

Until his team's scoreless drought, Kessel was a consistent threat with seven goals in the first eight games. MacArthur has a goal and an assist over the last six contests after scoring five times in the season-opening win streak, and Versteeg hasn't recorded a point in any other game.

"We've got to just find a way around the front of the net," coach Ron Wilson said. "Be sharper, be ready, think like a goal scorer. We've got a lot of guys on our team ... who don't have a resume that says they've scored anywhere. We've only got two or three guys who feel comfortable with some scoring chances."

With Pascal Leclaire still recovering from a pulled groin, the Maple Leafs could face Brian Elliott in net Tuesday. Elliott has a 3.89 goals-against average in four straight losses to Toronto and is 1-4-1 with a 3.39 GAA in six overall matchups.

Elliot also has a 3.39 GAA in his eight appearances this season and suffered a 4-0 loss to Boston on Saturday.

The Senators outshot the Bruins 12-6 in the first period but couldn't avoid their second shutout in four games. In the other two contests, Ottawa scored a combined 10 goals with Alex Kovalev notching three.

Spezza, who returned from a groin injury Saturday, has four goals and eight assists in his last 15 games against the Maple Leafs, while Kessel has six goals and two assists during the win streak over the Senators.

Toronto hasn't won six in a row over Ottawa since taking the first six games in the series between the provincial rivals.