MAPLE LEAFS (34-23-8) at DUCKS (43-14-7)
TV: LEAFS TV, KDOC
Last 10: Toronto 6-2-2; Anaheim 4-4-2
Season series: Anaheim and Toronto conclude a two-game season series tonight at Honda Center. The Ducks are 9-19-5 all-time vs. the Maple Leafs, including a 4-2 setback on Oct. 22, 2013 at the Air Canada Centre.
Tonight’s game marks the return of Head Coach Randy Carlyle to Anaheim. Carlyle coached the Ducks for seven seasons from 2005-11, posting a 273-182-61 in 516 career games. In 2007, he led the Ducks to California’s first Stanley Cup Championship along with the club’s first Pacific Division title.
Big story: The Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks (43-14-7, 93 points) have earned points in five straight (3-0-2, 8 pts.). Anaheim is riding its best start to a season through 64 games, improving upon its previous mark of 37-17-10 for 84 points in 2006-07. Anaheim also has the best home (24-5-4) and road (19-9-3) records, scored the most goals (205) and allowed the fewest (151) at this stage of the season in club history. The Ducks rank second in the NHL - behind only Chicago - in goals scored and goals-per-game average (3.20). The team has gone 15-6-2 in the last 23 games and 25-7-2 in the last 34, including a 14-5-2 mark at Honda Center and 11-2-0 road record.
Following tonight's game, the Ducks will embark on a three-game road trip that makes stops in Calgary (Mar. 12), Colorado (Mar. 14) and Los Angeles (Mar. 15)
Ducks: After playing most of this season at a blistering pace, Anaheim finds itself in what qualifies as a slump for the Pacific-division leaders. The Ducks have three regulation wins since the start of February, while losing their past two games in shootouts to the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins.
In Anaheim's most-recent game against Pittsburgh on Friday night, the Ducks let a lead slip away in the third period before being edged in a six-round shootout. Forward Corey Perry scored two goals in the defeat.
"I thought we played pretty well," forward Kyle Palmieri said. "There were a couple opportunities we had that might've been able to put the game away. [Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller] played a great game. When he was tested, he came up big for us. Overall, it was a good test for us, but falling in a shootout is disappointing."
Maple Leafs: Toronto's visit to Anaheim on Monday is the first stop on a road trip that will pit the Maple Leafs against the Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings, teams that are currently in playoff position or within reach of a wild-card spot. The trip comes at a crucial juncture for Toronto, which currently leads the Tampa Bay Lightning by two points for third place in the Atlantic. The Lightning, however, have a game in hand on Toronto.
The Maple Leafs have won two games in a row, but each victory came in overtime. Toronto has two wins in regulation over the past month and none since returning to action following the Olympic break. In the Leafs' most-recent game, a 4-3 overtime win on Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers, they blew two separate leads before Joffrey Lupul scored the game-winner at 2:21 of overtime.
"It feels good," Lupul said afterward. "We don't want to make a habit of blowing third-period leads. Things are going to happen, other teams are going to make plays and we stuck with it."
Who's hot: Perry has four goals and an assist in the past three games for the Ducks. ... Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri has scored in two straight games.
Injury report: Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa (lower-body injury) is out. Recently-acquired defenseman Stephane Robidas (broken leg) is on injured reserve, as is forward Mathieu Perreault (upper-body injury). … Maple Leafs forwards David Clarkson (leg injury) and Colton Orr (undisclosed) are questionable. Center David Bolland (ankle injury) remains on IR.
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