|Maple Leafs hope to cure woes when facing Senators|
OTTAWA -- By comparison, the Toronto Maple Leafs problems are nowhere near as dire as their provincial rivals.
But they are serious nonetheless.
When the Leafs visit the Ottawa Senators at CanadianTire Centre on Saturday night, they will be carrying a four-game winless streak and a string of blown leads.
The day after their latest collapse -- a 3-2 overtime loss in Philadelphia on Thursday after they were in front 2-0 -- goalie Frederik Andersen loudly questioned the work habits of some teammates during practice.
"He doesn't say much, but when he says something, people listen up," center Auston Matthews told reporters. "He's absolutely within his right to be upset because we've left him out to dry too many times over this course of games. We need to be better for one another. We need to be better for him."
The Leafs (25-17-5) hope to have defenseman Morgan Rielly in the lineup when they face the Senators, who have defeated them twice by the score of 4-3 this season, including a visit to Toronto on Jan. 10.
Meanwhile, the playoff hopes of the Senators (15-19-9) are not realistic at this point. Their most recent loss, Thursday's 4-1 beating by the St. Louis Blues, followed a familiar script, with Ottawa falling apart in the second period.
While Senators rookie defenseman Thomas Chabot was told he'll be remaining with the NHL team for the season, there's rumblings that might not be the case for Erik Karlsson.
The Senators want to re-sign their captain, who will be in for a huge raise when his deal expires at the end of next season, but general manager Pierre Dorion also reminded reporters that even Wayne Gretzky was traded. That has all of them nervous for their future.
"I don't think anybody wants it to happen, but the way reality works, if your team is not having success, changes are going to be made," winger Mark Stone said Friday. "If the group in here doesn't want changes to be made, we have to play better."
The Senators have been outscored 65-36 in the second period.
"If we quit now, it's going to be a long last couple of months. It's going to be a pretty hostile environment coming to the rink," said Stone. "If guys are prepared, coming to the rink every day to put in the effort for 60 minutes, and we lose 1-0, so be it.
"But games like (Thursday), where the effort is not there in the second period, those are the games we can't really deal with."
The Senators have injury problems up the middle, with centers Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Nate Thompson both out.
Craig Anderson was sharp in goal for the Senators when they last faced the Leafs, but he allowed a couple of soft goals against the Blues. Still, Saturday's game will likely see another Andersen vs. Anderson goalie matchup.