Flames-Maple Leafs Preview
Once again, the Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a quick start. Finishing strong, though, is a concern following their last performance.
Playing for the first time in a week, Toronto goes for its third consecutive victory Saturday night when it faces a Calgary Flames team trying to conclude its three-game trip with a fifth straight win in this matchup.
After opening 4-0-0 last season - which ended with the club missing the playoffs for the sixth straight year - the Maple Leafs have won their first two in 2011-12. However, Toronto surrendered five third-period goals in last Saturday's 6-5 victory over Ottawa.
"We played good for 50 minutes and took our foot off the pedal," said captain and former Flame Dion Phaneuf. "We got to learn from that, but it's a big two points for our team and we'll take them."
The Maple Leafs will also take more points from Phil Kessel, who leads the club with five. He notched his third career hat trick Saturday while matching his career best with four points.
Kessel, though, went scoreless in two matchups with the Flames last season and has just one assist in six career games against Calgary.
The Maple Leafs hope left wing Clarke MacArthur will make an instant impact in his season debut. MacArthur, who had career highs with 41 assists and 62 points last year - his first full season with Toronto - was suspended the final preseason game and the first two of the regular season after hitting Justin Abdelkader in the head in the third period of a 4-3 overtime win at Detroit on Sept. 30.
MacArthur will be linemates with Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin.
"I had two years without missing a game and it will be nice to get back in tomorrow," he told the Maple Leafs' official website.
Defenseman Cody Franson will also be on the ice for his Leafs debut following back-to-back healthy scratches. He had career highs with eight goals and 29 points last season for Nashville.
While Toronto continues its five-game homestand, the Flames (1-2-0) will try to win consecutive games.
Calgary rebounded from two losses Thursday with a 4-1 victory over Montreal. Miikka Kiprusoff
made 35 saves and moved ahead of Mike Vernon with his franchise-record 263rd win.
"I really honestly didn't know that Kip was close to that record today but it doesn't surprise me with how good of a goalie he is and how good this team has been since he's been here," Rene Bourque
said after scoring twice.
Kiprusoff has a 1.47 goals-against average during Calgary's winning streak against Toronto.
Flames captain Jarome Iginla
is off to a slow start with one goal, but he has 10 with 12 assists in his last 18 games in this matchup.
He had his six-game point streak against the Maples Leafs snapped in a 2-1 shootout victory in Toronto on Jan. 15.
Playing his first game at Air Canada Centre since being part of the seven-player Phaneuf deal on Jan. 31, 2010, Calgary's Matt Stajan
netted a third-period goal in that matchup before Grabovski knotted it with 12.7 seconds left in regulation.
Maples Leafs goaltender James Reimer will make his third consecutive start and first against Calgary.
The Flames have lost in regulation just twice in the last 11 matchups between these clubs.