Red Wings-Maple Leafs Preview
An ugly losing streak is in the past, but the Toronto Maple Leafs won't breathe easy for too long.
They'll look to build on a much-needed victory while trying to avoid a fifth consecutive defeat to the visiting Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night.
Coming off an embarrassing 9-2 home loss to Nashville two nights earlier, Toronto (10-8-2) managed to momentarily right the ship by snapping a three-game slide with Thursday's 5-2 victory over Tampa Bay.
"Sometimes you have to accept that the hockey gods are going to be against you, and that's what we believed (Tuesday)," said coach Randy Carlyle, who came under fire again after his team yielded 15 goals in the previous two games.
"There was nothing we could do to take it back," he added. "We sure didn't want to have something bad happen to our hockey club (Thursday), and I think they were rewarded for their hard work.''
James van Riemsdyk scored two of Toronto's three second-period goals and Jonathan Bernier made 26 saves to bounce back after he was pulled for yielding three goals on 12 shots Tuesday.
''It was nice for us to put that little streak, whatever you want to call it, the bad play behind us,'' van Riemsdyk said. ''Now we have to build on this and find some consistency.''
Stringing together victories isn't uncommon for the Maple Leafs, who have won three in a row twice this season. However, with Carlyle under scrutiny and a fervent fan base expecting more from a club that's reached the playoffs once in nine seasons, Toronto likely can't afford to regress.
"We'd love to be able to be more consistent," Carlyle said. "(Thursday), hopefully that was a starting point for us, but by no means do we think we're over the hump.
"We're going to play a Detroit Red Wing hockey club that really dominated us the last time they were in this building. Then, we went to Detroit and lost on a tough play."
Johan Franzen had two goals and Henrik Zetterberg recorded four assists in Detroit's 4-1 victory at Toronto on Oct. 17. The next night, Zetterberg scored with 10 seconds left in overtime to hand the Maple Leafs a 1-0 defeat.
"We owe them," Carlyle said. "That was our message after the game."
Van Riemsdyk's gone without a point in three straight against the Red Wings (10-4-5), but has five goals with six assists in 10 games this month.
Teammate Phil Kessel has been blanked throughout Toronto's 0-3-1 slide against Detroit, which can sweep a three-game trip after winning 4-3 at Winnipeg on Thursday.
Tomas Tatar had two goals and Franzen scored his fourth in six games to help the Red Wings overcome a 2-0 deficit.
With a power-play goal Thursday, Detroit is 10 for 31 in the last seven contests.
"I like the team," coach Mike Babcock told the Red Wings' official website. "I think we've got a chance to be a good team, I keep telling the guys that."
Detroit is 0 for 23 with the man advantage over its last seven with Toronto, but has won five of those meetings.
Zetterberg has recorded none of his team-leading 17 points in his last three games, but has two goals and seven assists in his last five against the Maple Leafs.
Jimmy Howard, who was rested Thursday after making 28 saves in a 5-0 win at Columbus two nights earlier, has a 1.72 goals-against average during a 3-0-1 stretch versus Toronto.