Game Day: Sharks at Maple Leafs
SAN JOSE SHARKS at TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., Air Canada Centre
TV: TSN4; Radio: 1050 AM
THE BIG MATCHUP
Brent Burns vs. Nikita Zaitsev
A couple of minute-munchers show their stuff, though Burns is also the Sharks’ leading scorer with 12 goals and had five points against the Leafs in two San Jose wins last season. Zaitsev has been a quiet success story for the Leafs (if that’s possible in Toronto), teamed with Morgan Rielly. It’s going to be a World Cup reunion along with a few others who played at the ACC tournament a few months ago.
FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME
Shoot ’em up
The Leafs had a whopping 99 shot attempts Sunday against the Avalanche, hitting the net on 52 of them. But the Sharks won’t be coming off a one-sided defeat the night before as Colorado was, prepping for this trip by whacking Carolina 4-3 at home on Saturday. Only Pittsburgh and Boston are averaging more than the 33 shots a night Toronto is cranking out — but they must generate goals.
The Leafs were going gangbusters on special teams until a letdown against the Avs. Conversely, the Sharks have to work on their 8.3% road power play, too measly for all that size and firepower they own.
In a pickle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic was banged up before the trip started and his shutdown game would be missed if he can’t play Tuesday. Former St. Mike’s defenceman Dylan DeMelo could see a larger role.
For all his golden numbers against the Western Conference in his days as a Duck, the Sharks gave Leafs starter Frederik Andersen the most trouble. He has only two wins in nine games against them.
Don’t fall behind
On Sunday, Colorado escaped a first-period barrage with a 1-0 lead and proceeded to hand Toronto its eighth loss when behind after 20 minutes (0-7-1). If the Sharks get up, they aren’t likely to release their grip.