Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators (-118, 5.5)
One point separates the fifth-place Toronto Maple Leafs and sixth-place Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Northeast Division rivals meet for the fifth and final time on Saturday in Ottawa in a game that could go a long way to determining playoff seeding - as well as provincial bragging rights. Toronto has won three of the previous four contests, most recently blanking the Senators 4-0 at Ottawa on March 30. It was the second time in the season series the Maple Leafs shut out the Senators, who have a game in hand on Toronto.
Ottawa’s only victory against the Maple Leafs came at home on Feb. 23 - a 3-2 triumph on the strength of three points from Colin Greening. Toronto has been outshot in each of its last nine games and has not looked strong in its last three contests, managing only 13 shots in a 2-0 win over New Jersey before dropping games to Washington and the Islanders. The Senators have won their last four following a five-game losing skid, benefitting from goaltender Craig Anderson’s return to form following a groin injury. Anderson has won his last three starts, allowing a total of three goals in that span.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, CBC, NHL Network (U.S.)
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (24-15-5): Phil Kessel is finishing the season strong with six goals and 12 points in eight games this month. No other Toronto player has more than two goals in April. The team’s scoring depth should receive a boost now that Joffrey Lupul has returned from missing five games with a concussion. Lupul, who had 14 points in seven games before his injury, opened the scoring against the Islanders on Thursday in his second game back. Goaltender James Reimer allowed a season-high five goals in Thursday’s loss after allowing three goals in his previous three starts. Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson has missed three games with a lower-body injury but could return on Saturday.
ABOUT THE SENATORS (23-14-6): Nine weeks after undergoing surgery to repair his Achilles tendon, defenseman Erik Karlsson resumed practicing on Friday. Karlsson, who won the Norris Trophy last season and had 10 points in 14 games prior to the injury, could return to the lineup before the end of the season. Milan Michalek has three points in three games since missing two months with a knee injury, playing with Kyle Turris and captain Daniel Alfredsson. Rookie Mika Zibanejad leads the team with five points this month. Defenseman Jared Cowen made his season debut on Tuesday after recovering from hip surgery and logged over 21 minutes of ice-time in Thursday’s 3-1 victory over Washington.
* Under is 5-1-1 in the last seven meetings.
* Maple Leafs are 5-1 in the last six meetings.
* Maple Leafs are 4-0 in their last four Saturday games.
* Under is 16-3-7 in Senators’ last 26 home games.
1. The Maple Leafs have won five of their last seven trips to Ottawa.
2. Ottawa is 15-3-3 at home and has allowed a conference-low 92 goals.
3. Toronto F Nazem Kadri leads the team with four goals and six points in the previous four games against the Senators.
Detroit Red Wings at Vancouver Canucks (-149, 5)
The Detroit Red Wings attempt to claw their way back into a playoff spot in the Western Conference when they visit the Northwest Division-leading Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. Detroit, which has not missed the postseason since 1989-90, sits in ninth place in the West - two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Red Wings fell to 1-2-2 in their last five games on Wednesday, when they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Calgary Flames.
Vancouver had a chance to clinch a playoff berth Thursday but suffered a 5-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. The Canucks fell to 1-2-1 over their last four contests and sit just four points ahead of the Minnesota Wild in the Northwest. After beginning their final homestand against Detroit, the Canucks will host Chicago and Anahem before concluding the regular season against the Oilers in Edmonton.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, NHL Network, CBC, RDS2, FSN (Detroit)
ABOUT THE RED WINGS (20-16-7): Detroit controls its own destiny despite beginning Saturday on the outside of the playoff picture. Should the Red Wings win each of their final five games, they will extend their streak to 22 consecutive postseason appearances. "If we win outright, we'll be OK," injured forward Todd Bertuzzi said. "We have a huge game (Saturday) and we have to take care of that, then we have a homestand for a bit, and then one game in Dallas. It's right there in front of us."
ABOUT THE CANUCKS (24-13-7): Vancouver opened the scoring Thursday but allowed five unanswered goals in the setback. "Very frustrating," goaltender Cory Schneider said. "It's just happening too much lately, and it's all preventable. We're just making casual plays or we're not being hard enough on the puck." The Canucks hope to have Kevin Bieksa back in the lineup as the defenseman has missed the last two games with a groin injury.
* Over is 5-0 in the last five meetings.
* Canucks are 6-0 in their last six home games.
* Red Wings are 0-9 in their last nine games playing on two days rest.
* Under is 4-0-2 in Red Wings last 6 overall.
1. RW Patrick Eaves was nominated for the Bill Masterton Trophy for his return from post-concussion syndrome.
2. The Red Wings have won five of their last seven visits to Vancouver.
3. Detroit captured the first two meetings of the season by a combined score of 13-5.