Leafs hope to bounce back in home tilt vs. surging Isles
(SportsNetwork.com) - Whatever confidence the Toronto Maple Leafs earned by winning the 2014 Winter Classic came crashing down in the club's next trip to the ice.
On Tuesday, the Maple Leafs hope to rebound from a lopsided defeat when they host the surging New York Islanders at Air Canada Centre.
Toronto posted a 3-2 shootout win while battling the Detroit Red Wings and snowy conditions on New Year's Day in Ann Arbor. The outdoor victory was the third straight win for the Maple Leafs, but that streak came to an abrupt halt with Saturday's 7-1 rout at the hands of the visiting New York Rangers.
New York grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first period and extend that cushion to five goals before Toronto finally reached the scoreboard late in the second period. When the dust finally settled, the Rangers wound up scoring seven goals in Toronto for the first time since winning 8-2 at Maple Leaf Gardens on March 14, 1990.
Joffrey Lupul scored the lone goal for Toronto and Jonathan Bernier let in five goals on 32 shots before being pulled. James Reimer played the last 23- plus minutes in net and gave up two goals on 18 shots.
Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said he thought the Winter Classic would have an adverse effect on his team's skating, but also didn't believe the "hangover" should've lasted more than a period.
"That would be my assumption of it, that you might start out flat for a period but you'd be able to get your legs back under you and get your game going to at least be more competitive," he said. "I expected a lot more from our group than what we got."
The Leafs hope to bounce back against an Islanders team that has lost two of three and five of the last eight games in this series. Toronto notched a 5-2 home win over New York back on Nov. 19, snapping the Isles' three-game winning streak at Air Canada Centre.
Leafs forward David Clarkson, who scored a goal when Toronto downed the visiting Islanders earlier this season, expects to miss Tuesday's tilt after injuring his left foot in Saturday's loss. Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson also left that game an upper-body injury and is doubtful for tonight's test.
The Islanders enter Tuesday having won four of their last five games and the club is coming off Monday's lopsided win over the visiting Dallas Stars. John Tavares recorded his fifth career hat trick and tied a career-high with five points in leading the Isles to the rout of the Stars at Nassau Coliseum.
It was the highest goal total of the season for New York, which trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes, but received a goal apiece from Peter Regin, Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson and Brian Strait, along with all three of Tavares' tallies, to skate away with the victory.
With his huge night, Tavares pushed his point streak to five games. He has seven goals and five assists during the run and is third in the NHL with 51 points (20 goals, 31 assists) in 43 games this season.
"A lot of guys did great things," Tavares said. "I was just happy I was able to capitalize."
Evgeni Nabokov got the start in net for New York, but left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury. Kevin Poulin took over between the pipes and stopped 13 shots to pick up the victory.
Poulin expects to get the start tonight in Toronto. His only career appearance against the Maple Leafs came on Nov. 19, when he yielded five goals on 24 shots in a loss at ACC.
The Islanders will try to stay hot when they begin a six-game road trip tonight. New York is just 8-13-0 as the guest this season, but has won four straight away from Long Island.
01/07 11:24:13 ET