It’s as close to a game between the Edmonton Oilers of the early ‘80s and the 1993 Maple Leafs as imaginable as the two hot teams clash on Monday in Toronto.
It will be the first of two meetings in a nine-day span. The Toronto Maple Leafs, winners of two straight games, are fighting for one of the last few playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. With 60 points, Toronto is in a bunch within a couple of points that includes the New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets.
The Oilers, playing like playoff contenders with three straight wins, are 11 points behind the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The two teams split the two-game series last season with each winning on the road.
Edmonton Oilers (21-26-5): Edmonton is coming off a 5-4 shootout win at home over the Detroit Red Wings. Sam Gagner followed his historic eight-point night with two goals and an assist. “I’m just feeling way better about how I am playing. I want the puck. I want to be the guy,” admits Gagner of his recent success. Also against Detroit, Jordon Eberle collected two goals, including the game tying goal in the dying seconds of regulation. Rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the shootout winner in the sixth round. Gagner has six goals and six assists on his three-game point streak. The Oilers are 4-0-1 in their last five games, all started by goaltender Devan Dubnyk.
Toronto Maple Leafs (27-19-6): Toronto, which is 5-4-1 in its last 10 games, is coming off a 5-0 romp of their Provincial rival Senators. Goaltender James Reimer made 49 saves for his second consecutive shutout. It was his third of the season and sixth of his career. The 23-year-old previously made 25 saves in shutting out Pittsburgh 1-0. Against Ottawa, Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak each had a goal and two assists, while captain Dion Phaneuf, Luke Schenn and Cody Franson also scored. The Leafs have won five of their last seven games.
1. The Maple Leafs have killed off 22 straight shorthanded situations and have not given up a power-play goal in their 14 games played in 2012.
2. Gagner’s three points against Detroit set an Oilers franchise record, breaking Wayne Gretzky's record of scoring or setting up 10 consecutive goals.
NHL PREDICTION: Oilers 3, Leafs 2
air canada centre - cody franson - devan dubnyk - dion phaneuf - edmonton oilers - james reimer - jordon eberle - luke schenn - phil kessel - ryan nugent-hopkins