A point of pride the past two seasons for Leafs fans has been the domination of the Ottawa Senators, save for one loss in Ottawa last February when the Senators scored the winner with just seconds remaining on the clock. The Leafs are winners of five straight against their provincial rivals and six of the last seven. The reason is simple: The Senators have had no answer for the Leaf attack.
Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
This is amazing: With another multipoint game last night versus the Florida Panthers, marking his 18th and 19th points in his past 11 games, Phil Kessel now sits fourth in points over the past three seasons. He’s only four points back of first-placed Evgeni Malkin, meaning Kessel becoming the scoringest player in the National Hockey League in the past three seasons (start of 2011-12 to current) is an actual possibility, should he finish the season strong (-er than the other guys).
TORONTO , ON - JANUARY 30: Jonathan Bernier #45 and Cody Franson #4 of the Toronto Maple Leafs recoil after Krys Barch #21 of the Florida Panthers, breaks wind during NHL game action January 30, 2014 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
Your Toronto Maple Leafs are now the hottest team in the League over the last ten games (8-1-1), and they’re doing it the Leaf way – with hot sticks and a hot goalie while getting repeatedly outshot (in all ten games). The Leafs have scored 35 goals over 9 games since beating Boston 4-3 on January 14. JvR (1g, 1a), Kessel (2a), Lupul (1g, 1a) and Kadri (3a) all mustered multi point nights in tonight’s 6-3 win over the Florida Panthers.
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 17: Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs battles for the puck with Sean Bergenheim #20 of the Florida Panthers during NHL game action December 17, 2013 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Maple Leafs look to even the season series in a “should mean 2 points” meeting against the 27th-place Florida Panthers. A win would give the Leafs eight victories and an OT loss in their last 10.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri (43) celebrates a goal against the Buffalo Sabres during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Buffalo, New York March 21, 2013. REUTERS/Doug Benz
Good (victorious) morning, MLHS.
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Standout performances by Nazem Kadri (2 goals) and Jonathan Bernier (40 saves on 42 shots), and another timely goal late in the third by the top line (JvR’s 21st from Kessel and Bozak), saw the Maple Leafs take the first of four season meetings against the Lightning. The Leafs are 7-1-1 in their last nine, and remain in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 28-21-6 record (62 points).
Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf, right, reacts after scoring the game winning goal as Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman, left, look on during over-time NHL hockey action in Toronto on Thursday, April 5, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Tonight, the Leafs will host one of the surprise teams in the League this season in the 31-16-5 Tampa Bay Lightning. Despite the loss of Stamkos after his 14-goals-in-17-games start, their reliance on the emergence of an inexperienced netminder and a supporting cast with quite a bit of rookie content, it’s all come up aces for Jon Cooper, who is a serious Jack Adams candidate through 52 games.
The Maple Leafs look to put the Dallas debacle behind them tonight in Winnipeg. As far as the playoff race goes, Montreal lost their third in a row last night and the two teams remain tied on points for 3rd in the division. The bad news is that Detroit and New Jersey both won last night and are sniffing at the Leafs’ heels in the wildcard race.
DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 23: Kari Lehtonen #32 of the Dallas Stars makes a save against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second period at American Airlines Center on January 23, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Well, they weren’t going to win forever, but this was an emphatic way to end the winning streak.
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 21: Gabriel Landeskog #92 of the Colorado Avalanche and Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs collide with force at the Pepsi Center on January 21, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Leafs defeated the Avalanche 5-2. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
These Leafs are rolling.
Their first six game winning streak since 2006 comes thanks to another offensive explosion and a commendable effort in a back-to-back situation at mile-high altitude against a top team in the West. The Leafs chased goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who was 11-0-5 in his last 16, with three goals on their first 10 shots.
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The first four game winning streak of the season has quickly erased memories of the lowest point of the Leafs’ season, a four-game losing streak wherein Toronto was outscored 21-7. A couple of regulation wins over divisional opponents Boston and Montreal needs to be a momentum builder for this team as they attempt to chase down a divisional playoff spot, beginning with a 4-game road swing versus the Coyotes, Avalanche, Stars and Jets.
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For the life of them, the Leafs can’t put together a pair of ROWs for their burning boat. They still don’t have two consecutive regulation-overtime wins since November 19, but they do have a three-game winning streak underway thanks to their ninth shootout win of the season. Given their ROW was already too far below their nearest competitors to catch up on the tiebreaker, the two points are what matter most.
The Leafs look to hold onto their reclaimed playoff spot by turning a pair of wins into a winning streak against the League’s worst team, but must do so in a back-to-back situation while a chunk of their roster battles the flu bug.
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The Leafs go seeking out an ever-elusive regular season victory at TD Garden tonight.
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The Leafs lost a hard-fought, 50/50 game in Washington by a score of 3-2. There’s positives to be gleaned, as Toronto was more combative than in recent games, but there’s only such thing as a “good loss” if it begets the end of a losing streak. The issue is the Leafs have so rarely been able to use a good effort as a building block this season. Carlyle’s message will have been to keep heads high after this one as the effort wasn’t in question.
I gave up after the 1st, which featured some of the softest defensive play and fundamentally poor defensive coverage we’ve seen from the Leafs since Ron Wilson got fired.
TORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 28: James Reimer #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs defends the goal as teammate Carl Gunnarsson #36 battles for the puck with Jiri Tlusty #19 of the Carolina Hurricanes during NHL game action March 28, 2013 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
According to Jonas Siegel, Mark Fraser is going to enter the lineup in the place of Jake Gardiner.
All you can do is laugh.
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 7: Tim Gleason #8 and Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs battle with John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders during NHL game action January 7, 2014 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
This was the first loss of the season that can be definitively attributed to poor Maple Leafs’ goaltending. Not that the Leafs were totally convincing otherwise, but they carried the shots advantage and play for the first 40, as well as a 4-0 advantage in powerplay opportunities, and came out of it tied at 2s. No excusing three of the four goals on Jonathan Bernier tonight, and yet he remained in the net through 59 minutes.
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Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs vs New York Islanders
The Toronto Maple Leafs’ first blowout loss of the season came at home to the Columbus Blue Jackets back on November 25, a game much like Saturday night’s in that the team was plainly outworked from puck drop. After getting booed off the ice, the Maple Leafs were probably happy to take to the road for the three games afterward. Booed after each period en route to a 7-1 loss to the Rangers and apologizing after the game on Saturday, the Leafs won’t get the same reprieve tonight. With a tenuous hold on the final wildcard spot, the Leafs will need to bounce back on home ice against a team they should be able to beat in the New York Islanders.
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 23: Benoit Pouliot #67 of the New York Rangers checks David Clarkson #71 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at Madison Square Garden on December 23, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
With the HBO 24/7 sideshow and the 2014 Winter Classic spectacle now behind them, the Toronto Maple Leafs look to continue a three-game winning streak versus the New York Rangers.