JVR-less Leafs look to stay hot; Sens finally open at home

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The Sports Network
10/17/2013 11:51:46 AM
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The red-hot Toronto Maple Leafs will aim for their seventh win in eight games to begin the season when they host the Carolina Hurricanes in Thursday's battle at Air Canada Centre.

James Reimer will get the start for Toronto after his solid outing on Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. The team will have to do it without James van Riemsdyk however, as head coach Randy Carlyle said Thursday morning the forward is suffering from back spasms.

The Maple Leafs currently are on their second three-game winning streak of the season, having opened the campaign with three straight victories before suffering their only loss on Oct. 8 against Colorado. Toronto has beaten Nashville, Edmonton and Minnesota since that home loss to the Avalanche and is sitting atop the Atlantic Division with 12 points.

Toronto's last two wins came on home ice and the club is wrapping a three-game stand at ACC on Thursday. The Maple Leafs were last in action on Tuesday, when Mason Raymond tallied a pair of goals to help Toronto record a 4-1 decision over the Minnesota Wild.

Raymond scored his first of the game in the second period and added a late empty-netter for Toronto, which is shooting for its first four-game winning streak since Feb. 5-11 of last season.

Tyler Bozak and Trevor Smith also scored in Tuesday's victory.

"It was tough, they're a good team," said Bozak. "They play hard, they don't give you much out there. We found a way to get it done, and that's the most important thing."

Reimer, making his first appearance in goal after he was pulled for Jonathan Bernier in the second period of a win over Ottawa on Oct. 5, stood tall between the pipes, stopping 37-of-38 shots.

"You want contribution from everybody all over the ice," said Raymond. "Reims tonight was huge. From our standpoint, we didn't have the best game ever, didn't have a lot of shots on net, but at the end of the day we found a way to win."

Carolina has lost three straight heading into Thursday's contest, but the 'Canes were able to record a point in two of those setbacks, including Tuesday's 3-2 shootout loss against visiting Chicago. Patrick Sharp scored in the third round of the shootout to help the Blackhawks take a 3-2 win, but Carolina overcame a 2-0 deficit in the third period to steal a point from the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Alexander Semin and Ron Hainsey scored in the third period for the Hurricanes, who haven't won since beating Washington on Oct. 10.

Cam Ward finished the game with 34 saves, but fell to 0-2-3 on the season.

Trailing by two goals entering the third period, the Hurricanes made it a one- goal game 3:54 in as a big slap shot from the right circle by Eric Staal was stopped, but the rebound sat on the doorstep and Semin swept it in for his second of the year.

Carolina tied the game with 7:27 to play, as Hainsey wound up with the puck at the left point and threw it on net. The disc sailed past several players and beat a screened Crawford.

"To come back and tie the game in the third period is a huge confidence booster for this team," said Ward. "We just have to learn how to finish these games."

Ward is 13-8-2 with a 2.78 GAA in 23 career outings against Toronto and is expected to get the call on Thursday.

Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk sat out Tuesday's game with an undisclosed injury and he is questionable for tonight. Carolina's Elias Lindholm has sat out the last two tilts with an upper-body issue and the centerman is also questionable for Thursday's contest.

Toronto posted a 6-3 home win over the Hurricanes when the clubs last met on March 28. That victory ended a four-game slide in the series for the Maple Leafs, who only have two wins in the last seven games against Carolina.

Toronto has claimed three of the last five meetings at Air Canada Centre, but the Hurricanes have taken seven of the past 10 encounters on the road.

New Jersey Devils at Ottawa Senators

The New Jersey Devils once again will aim for their first victory of the season when the Ottawa Senators host Thursday's home opener at Canadian Tire Centre.

The Senators shook up their lines during morning skate Wednesday with Cory Conacher taking Bobby Ryan's spot on the top line and Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Zack Smith swapping spots as well.

The Devils are 0-3-3 on the season and are coming off consecutive regulation losses. New Jersey does enter Thursday's game in Ottawa well rested, however, as the club hasn't played since Sunday's 3-0 setback in Winnipeg.

New Jersey sent 24 shots Al Montoya's way on Sunday, but the Jets goaltender stopped ever single one to lead Winnipeg to the win. Evander Kane added two goals to the home team's cause, while Cory Schneider stopped 32 shots in a losing effort.

The Devils, who have tallied just 11 goals in six games this season, have scored once on 15 opportunities on the power play in 2013-14. The club was 0- for-5 on the power play against the Jets and failed to score on a two-man advantage for 1:12 early in the second period.

"You got a full five-on-three there. If we score, I think it's a different game. We have to generate something there," New Jersey head coach Peter DeBoer remarked.

The Devils will turn to Martin Brodeur in net on Thursday. The 41-year-old future Hall of Famer is 0-1-2 with a 3.19 goals against average this season, but is 36-23-3 with four ties and a 2.17 GAA in 67 career games against the Senators.

New Jersey will play Thursday without forward Ryane Clowe, who suffered a head injury in the loss to the Jets and has been placed on injured reserve. Clowe, who signed a five-year, $24.25 million deal with the Devils in the offseason, has one assist in six games this season.

The Senators, meanwhile, are happy to be home after going 2-2-2 on a season- opening six-game road trip. Ottawa had lost four straight before closing the swing with Tuesday's overtime decision against the Phoenix Coyotes. Cory Conacher scored 2:48 into the extra session to lift the Sens to the 4-3 triumph in the desert.

Jason Spezza completed the fifth hat trick of his career for the Senators and his third goal gave Ottawa a 3-2 lead with 12:41 left in the third, but Phoenix's Mike Ribeiro was credited with a power-play goal with 3:30 remaining to force overtime.

In the extra session, Marc Methot sent a diagonal slap pass to below the right circle for a successful one-timer by Conacher. Craig Anderson made 34 saves for Ottawa.

"We end up with a .500 record to start the season with six games on the road. We can go home and feel good about that, not really feel good about maybe the way we played in all those games but we did find a way to get some points out of four of the games," said Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean.

The Senators are playing two straight and four of their next five games on home ice. Ottawa was 15-6-3 as the host during the lockout-shortened 2013 season compared to a 10-11-3 mark on the road.

Ottawa also won all three of its games against New Jersey last season and has taken six of nine overall in the series. The Devils have lost five of their last six games in Canada's capital city.

Mason Raymond (Photo: Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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