The Toronto Maple Leafs have been a hit on the road, and on Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators, they have a chance to show they can also be good at home.
After struggling through a 1-3-2 spell that concluded with a 6-2 home loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 18 before the All-Star break, the Maple Leafs resumed play this week with two victories on the road. They defeated the Nashville Predators 5-2 on Monday and beat the Dallas Stars 5-3 on Wednesday.
The Maple Leafs will take a 12-6-7 home record into their game against the Senators, who lost 5-3 Friday night to the visiting Washington Capitals.
Toronto has scored at least four goals in eight straight road games, a club record.
"You just keep building," Maple Leafs left winger Zach Hyman told the Toronto Sun. "You come off the All-Star break with two wins, now you have to bring the momentum home."
The Maple Leafs will play five of their next seven games at home starting Saturday. They will try to continue the improvement at closing out games that they have displayed this week.
"There have been times this season, and in my four years here, that we haven't been good closing out games and have given up leads," said center Auston Matthews, who leads the Maple Leafs with 36 goals. "But these last two, in tough buildings and tough atmospheres, we've been able to pull it out. Heading to the third with a lead, you want to play smart."
Left winger William Nylander scored once Wednesday and has a goal in each of the past five games to give him 24 on the season. Right winger Mitch Marner led Toronto forwards with 21:51 of ice time and had two assists at Dallas.
Hyman also had a goal on Wednesday, and Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe praised his work ethic.
"We've come to expect that from him," Keefe said. "But when the game was on the line, he was battling, pressuring the puck, creating turnovers, taking away any sort of time they might have to create anything."
After defeating the host Buffalo Sabres 5-2 on Tuesday, the Senators are 6-15-4 on the road. It was their first road win since Dec. 4.
After falling behind 2-0, the Senators made it close against the Capitals. Alex Ovechkin scored the clincher into an empty net at 19:45 of the third period on a power play for his second goal of the night.
"We upped our compete level in the second half," Senators coach D.J. Smith said.
The Senators' power play, which has been near the bottom of the league, again showed some signs of improving. Artem Anisimov scored a power play goal. Each team scored a short-handed goal.
The Senators had three goals with the man advantage against Buffalo and have a total of seven over the past five games.
"It's a young team, so it's going to take time to develop and get everyone on the same page and knowing the routes and plays," Senators right winger Tyler Ennis said. "It's a little more technical than just having one more guy than (the other team). We've been getting better as the season has progressed, and we're starting to click."
--Field Level Media