Toronto at Columbus
When: 7:00 PM
ET, Friday, October 31, 2014
Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
A timely meeting with the woeful Buffalo Sabres helped the Toronto Maple Leafs snap out of their recent funk. A showdown with a severely undermanned Columbus team could allow the Maple Leafs to build some momentum as they visit the Blue Jackets on Friday. Toronto thoroughly dominated rival Buffalo last time out, rolling to a 4-0 home victory, and now face a Blue Jackets club that will be missing several regulars due to injuries.
With a handful of key players already out of the lineup heading into the week, Columbus suffered three more major injuries in Tuesday's loss to the Ottawa Senators. Center Artem Anisimov sustained a concussion and is out indefinitely, defenseman James Wisniewski broke his finger and center Mark Letestu strained his groin and will miss the next 2-4 weeks. Toronto's triumph over Buffalo was just its second in five games, and moved it back to .500.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, RSN Ontario (Toronto), FSN Ohio (Columbus)
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (4-4-1): Coach Randy Carlyle's decision to mix up his top two lines reaped immediate dividends. Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul were bumped up to the top line alongside star forward Phil Kessel, and the trio combined for a goal and 18 shots in the victory, while the newly constructed second line of Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk and David Clarkson produced a pair of tallies. It's expected the Maple Leafs will roll with the same combinations against Columbus.
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (4-5-0): Some coaches might consider the loss of nine regulars a sure sign that a less-aggressive style of play is the way to go - but Todd Richards doesn't agree. "We will want to play the same way - an aggressive, physical game," Richards told the Columbus Dispatch. "I think we have the guys here. We can play that way." With No. 1 netminder Sergei Bobrovsky (finger) expected to miss the next week or two, Curtis McElhinney likely will start against Toronto with Anton Forsberg backing him up.
1. Columbus swept last year's three-game series, outscoring Toronto 13-3 in the process.
2. Kessel has recorded just three goals and two assists in eight career games against the Blue Jackets.
3. The Blue Jackets have allowed six power-play goals in four games after going 11-for-11 on the penalty kill over their first five contests.
PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 4, Blue Jackets 2
Stats and Records