Leafs look for two-point gift

LANCE HORNBY, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 1:42 PM ET

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Mike Komisarek can't wait to spend Christmas with family and friends on Long Island. But he made it clear that the best present will be two points tonight against the Islanders.

“It's always fun to come back, but this is a business trip,” said the big defenceman, one of a few Leafs with relatives in the Long Island and New York City area who were given permission to stay after tonight for the next two days.

“We win tonight, that's five out of six points in last three games and our group is really excited about the second half of the season (which starts Jan. 2 in Calgary) and really making a push (for playoffs).”

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will mark the first consecutive days off the Leafs have had since Nov, 28-29 and much of the single days off when the team didn’t play was taken up with club functions. The Leafs' record was 7-6 in that hectic period .

“You can sit there and complain about the travel and the schedule, but everyone else (in the NHL) is doing it,” Komisarek said. “The team that deals best with all the games and playing on consecutive nights is going to have the most success. (General manager) Brian Burke talked about not making excuses at the start of the year...you’re not going to hear any guys on this team complain about the schedule.”

The Leafs catch the Islanders in the midst of a four-game losing streak at Nassau Coliseum and just two wins in their past nine games overall. But taking advantage of teams in a slump has been a difficult task for the Leafs.

The Isles are down to seven goals in the past five games and their penalty killing is dreadful, allowing 18 goals on the past 40 chances. Young forwards John Tavares and Matt Moulson are hitting a wall.

Islanders’ coach Scott Gordon is happy his team has 25 or more shots the past five games, but it’s not translating into wins and a loss tonight puts the Leafs three points up in the crowded Eastern Conference playoff race.

“You can only do the best you can trying to generate those opportunities,” Gordon said. “Five-on-5, we’ve been consistent and you break it down (on video) and there are a lot of good things to show. Obviously, it has been the opposite with our special teams, a little lack of confidence, but it will come around.”

Rick DiPietro is practising, but the Isles’ multi-million dollar goalie still has not recovered from hisn latest knee surgery. Boxing Day will mark the one-year anniversary of his last win, which came here against the Leafs.

Dwayne Roloson starts tonight with Jonas Gustavsson for Toronto. Rickard Wallin replaces fellow Swedish forward Viktor Stalberg, who is at home nursing a shoulder injury. Jeff Finger continues on defence ahead of Garnet Exelby.


Videos

Photos