Season series: This is the fifth of sixth meetings between Northeast Division rivals. They've split the first four, with Jean-Sebastien Giguere recording a 30-save shutout in his second game with the Maple Leafs to spark a 5-0 win in the most recent meeting on Feb. 6. Phil Kessel has four goals for Toronto to lead all scorers. Mike Fisher has three to pace Ottawa.
Big story: The Senators caught fire in mid-January and surged up the Eastern Conference standings, but they have lost their first two following the Olympic break. Now a flu bug has gone through the team and is threatening to keep a couple of players out of Saturday's game. Forwards Jarkko Ruutu, Ryan Shannon and Peter Regin all missed practice on Friday. Zack Smith has already been recalled from Binghamton Senators (AHL).
“I’m not going to comment on which guys (are in or out) because there’s too many to comment on," said Senators coach Cory Clouston after this morning's pre-game skate. "We’ll have a lineup tonight and we’ll be ready.”
Clouston admitted he's never seen a flu bug hit one of his teams this hard.
“I’ve had one or two guys, not this many guys at one time,” he said.
Maple Leafs: Brian Burke and Ron Wilson came within a goal of gold as the GM and coach, respectively, of Team USA at the Olympics in Vancouver. Now it's back to reality as they resume their duties with Toronto, which sits dead last in the East. The Leafs have lost their first two games coming out of the break, and four straight overall. They did get a point out of Thursday's 3-2 loss in Boston and might have managed two if not for stellar goaltending by a member of that U.S. squad, Tim Thomas.
"I couldn't ask for more from the guys," Wilson said. "We had some great chances -- three or four breakaways. I tip my hat to Tim Thomas; he made some huge saves for them."
Senators: While a lot of teams were grateful to have two weeks off, Clouston probably would have liked to see Ottawa just keep on going. The Senators had won 14 of 16 when the season came to a halt in mid-February for the Olympics and since resuming play, they've lost by identical 4-1 scores to the Rangers and Hurricanes. Brian Elliott and Pascal Leclaire have alternated getting pulled for one another in the defeats.
"Maybe it was better for the team, a spark or something, but it's unfortunate," said Leclaire, who was replaced by Clouston just 6:23 into the first period after giving up a pair of quick goals. "I was hoping for a longer start, but I respect the decision."
Who's hot: Rookie forward Tyler Bozak has three goals in his past five games and six points in his last seven for the Maple Leafs. That includes a goal against the Senators the last time these teams met.
Injury report: Toronto defencemen Mike Komisarek (shoulder) and Mike Van Ryn (knee) are out for the season. Forward Mikhail Grabovski is out indefinitely with a broken wrist.
In addition to Ruutu, Shannon and Regin battling the flu, Ottawa defenceman Filip Kuba is out for a second straight game with a lower-body injury. Forward Nick Foligno is on injured reserve with a broken leg.
Stat pack: Defenceman Tomas Kaberle remains the Maple Leafs' scoring leader with 46 points, five more than Kessel … Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson has assists in three straight games, including the 600th of his NHL career on Thursday.
Puck drop: Toronto made some major deals at the end of January and continued to overhaul its roster at the trade deadline. Luca Caputi, acquired from Pittsburgh as part of the package for Alexei Ponikarovsky, assisted on a goal against the Bruins in his Leafs' debut and is one fresh face the team will be evaluating over the final five weeks.