Bruins-Maple Leafs Preview
By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- The defending champion Boston Bruins being in a last-place tie in the Eastern Conference almost a month into the season is a surprise.
The Toronto Maple Leafs finding themselves tied atop the East seems nearly as unexpected.
Seeking their first back-to-back victories of the season, the Bruins visit a Maple Leafs team that has been all but unbeatable at home Saturday night.
Boston's 3-7-0 record in October was due in large part to a lack of offense, as the Bruins scored 22 goals and went 5 for 39 on the power play.
Boston was able to get November off to a good start Tuesday, defeating Ottawa 5-3. Defenseman Johnny Boychuk's first goal of the season with 13:19 remaining put Boston up for good and Daniel Paille scored 37 seconds later.
The Bruins' eight points have them tied with the New York Islanders in the East cellar.
"We know our backs are against the wall," forward Shawn Thornton, who had an assist against the Senators for his first point of the season, told the team's official website. "For us to dig ourselves out of this hole we've created we're going to have to take it one game at a time, but we have to be good in those games.
"So Toronto's next up and we're going to have to play our best and try and get another two points and get a little bit of a roll going here."
The Maple Leafs (9-3-1) haven't made the playoffs since 2003-04, but they've been playing like they want to end that drought. Toronto is 5-0-1 at home and its 45 total goals are among the most in the league.
The Bruins have been outscored 9-6 in going 1-2-0 on the road.
"They're high tempo, (and play) a very open type of game," coach Claude Julien said of the Leafs. "... so if they're going to open up, then we got to make sure we're ready to play good defense."
Despite getting outshot 39-18 on Thursday, Toronto defeated Columbus 4-1. Former Bruin Phil Kessel notched his league-leading 21st point with an assist while Clarke MacArthur scored twice.
MacArthur has six goals and an assist during the Leafs' 4-1-0 surge.
Ben Scrivens also came up big by turning away 38 shots in his NHL debut.
"Anytime you play your first game you want to make a good impression. Hopefully I did that," he said. "You can't do that without a good team playing in front of you."
While the 25-year-old likely earned himself future playing time with his impressive effort, Jonas Gustavsson could be back in goal Saturday.
Since posting his only career shutout in a 2-0 win over Boston on Dec. 19, 2009, Gustavsson has gone 1-2-1 with a 3.17 goals-against average over his last four games in the series.
He allowed a career high-tying six goals in a 6-2 loss at Boston in his season debut Oct. 20. Tim Thomas made 26 saves to snap his 0-2-2 skid versus the Leafs.
Kessel has two goals and four assists in 13 games against his former team since being dealt to Toronto in September 2009.
Updated November 4, 2011