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Toronto (30-20-8) at Ottawa (19-27-11)
Saturday, 7 p.m., CBC, TSN 1200 AM, Unique 94.5 FM
THE BIG MATCHUP
Connor Brown vs. Kasperi Kapanen
Acquired in the deal that brought Nikita Zaitsev to Ottawa, Brown has been given the opportunity to have an offensive role with the Senators and has emerged as the club’s leading scorer with 10 goals and 35 points. Like everybody else, he has struggled with consistency, so now might be a good time to end that nine-game drought without a goal and start contributing more offensively. The previous time the Senators faced the Leafs, Toronto didn’t have Kapanen because he was scratched for sleeping in. The Leafs need his offence as well.
FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Big game for the Leafs
Sitting in third place in the Atlantic Division heading into Friday’s action, the Leafs need these two points to keep pace in the final push for the playoffs. Newly acquired goaltender Jack Campbell will make the start for Toronto because the Leafs can’t afford to take anything for granted. The Senators have been difficult to play against and are coming off a 3-2 victory over Arizona at home Thursday.
2. Bring some consistency
The Senators have struggled in this area all season and the club has just three wins in its past 19 games, but had a strong effort against Arizona and put up a good fight in a 3-0 loss to Colorado on Tuesday on the road. The Leafs are a team with a lot of high-end skill. It’s paramount the Senators play well defensively to give themselves any kind of a chance to win.
3. Home, sweet home
There will be no shortage of Toronto fans in the building and Ottawa players have joked in the past they need to score early to take the crowd out of it. The Senators have a 13-10-6 record in 29 home games this season and a bulk of the club’s victories have come at Canadian Tire Centre. A strong effort with the last change is important for coach D.J. Smith.
4. Show discipline
An area the Senators have been strong in this season is killing penalties, but they’ve struggled lately and are now ranked No. 21 in the league in that department. The club was hovering around No. 15 most of the season, but has given up goals in seven of its past nine games. A way to avoid any trouble is by staying out of the penalty box completely, especially in this one.
5. Back in town
There will likely be plenty of supporters who make the trek 150 km east from Pembroke to see Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe behind the bench. This is his first game in Ottawa since taking over from Mike Babcock in late November and he’s back in a familiar place. Keefe started his coaching career with the CCHL’s Pembroke Lumber Kings and is fondly remembered.
Brady Tkachuk–Jean-Gabriel Pageau–Connor Brown
Vladislav Namestnikov–Chris Tierney–Drake Batherson
Nick Pau-Artem Anisimov–Anthony Duclair
Tyler Ennis–Colin White –Scott Sabourin
Thomas Chabot–Dylan DeMelo
Ron Hainsey–Cody Goloubef
Mike Reilly – Nikita Zaitsev
William Nylander-Auston Matthews-Mitch Marner
Alex Kerfoot-John Tavares-Zach Hyman
Kyle Clifford-Jason Spezza-Kasperi Kapanen
Dmytro Timashov-Pierre Engvall-Frederik Gauthier
Jake Muzzin-Justin Holl
Travis Dermott-Tyson Barrie
Rasmus Sandin-Timothy Liljegren
OTT: Anders Nilsson, Mark Borowiecki
TOR: Morgan Rielly, Cody Ceci, Andreas Johnsson (knee), Ilya Mikheyev
OTT: PP 14.4% (29th); PK 78.5% (21st)
TOR: PP 25.3% (3rd); 77.8% (23rd)
ALSO IN SPORTS
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