The Leafs return home to play their last game of 2006 when they host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night (7:00PM ET, CBC). Losers of 3 of their last 4 games, Toronto is coming off of a loss to the Pittbsurgh Penguins the night before, their 1st defeat their since November 1st 2001.
Mats Sundin scored the only goal for the Leafs who have been inconsistent at best on the ice as of late, and are now going through injury problems at the worse possible time in the season.
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Darcy Tucker, leading the Leafs in goals with 19, was missing from last night's loss to the Penguins with a bruised foot, but is expected to return tonight.
Alexei Ponikarovksy (elbow) and Kyle Wellwood (hip-flexor) did not make the trip to Pittburgh, along with Michael Peca who is out 3-4 months with a knee injury.
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Jean-Sebastin Aubin, who started in net in place of Andrew Raycroft, stoppe 26 of shots 30 in a game where the Leafs took 10 penalties and unconciously tested the Penguins' Powerplay.
Leaf Coach Paul Maurice summed up the situtation as best he could:
Raycroft is expected to start tonight against the Senators. He is 15-12-3 after 29 games and has a 3.09 Goals Against Average an .893 Save PercentagePaul Maurice said:"We just can't stay out of the penalty box."
Mats SUndin once again leads the team in points, with 35 Points in 32 Games (16G, 19A)
Toronto is 17-17-5 for 39 points after 39 games. placing them 11th in the Eastern Conference, and last in the Northeast Division.
The Senators, also inconsistent as of late, are coming off of a 1-0 victory of over the New York Rangers the night last night. With injuries to Jason Spezza (knee) and Mike Fishers (knee) Chris Kelly had to step up and take over the top line center position with Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson riding his wings.
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After a slow start to the Season, Dany Heatley now leads the team with 20 goals in 39 games, and is tied for the team lead in points with Jason Spezza, both having and 44.
Senators Goaltenders Ray Emery has taken the reigns and run with them, with yet another shutout to add to his resume this season. So far he has a 2.57 Goals Against Average and .916 Save Percentage , along with a 13-9-0 record after 24 games.
Emery is likely to start tonight in what should be a tale of two Rayzors, and a battle of the Sharpest.
Ottawa holds the last playoff spot in the East, with a 20-18-1 record after 39 games for 41 Points - 2 ahead of Toronto. They are also 3rd in the Northeast Division behind the Montreal Canadiens and 1st place Buffalo Sabres.
The meeting will be the 1st between the 2 teams since a home-and-home which Ottawa swept in October, embarassing the Leafs 6-2 in Toronto, and 7-2 in Ottawa.
This will be Round #5 of the "Battle of Ontario" this year, with teams already having met 4 times in October.