|Luca Caputi stands in front of Leaf goalie J-S Giguere during Monday practice. (QMI Agency/Craig Robertson)
TORONTO - If anyone can help the snake-bitten Toronto Maple Leafs avoid some dubious history, it’s the Ottawa Senators.
Toronto has beaten the Senators in their past five meetings and will be looking to stretch that run to six games on Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre if it wants to avoid being shutout in three consecutive games for the first time since 1926, when the team was named the St. Patricks.
To help accomplish their goal and get back their scoring touch, the Leafs are putting 6-foot-3, 200-pound winger Luca Caputi on the top with sniper Phil Kessel and centre Tyler Bozak. Winger Kris Versteeg, meanwhile, will be dropping down to a line with centre Tim Brent and Mike Brown.
“We’re looking for a little balance among the three lines and that’s why Kris Versteeg is playing on, I guess you want to call it the third line,” coach Ron Wilson said after Tuesday morning’s team skate. “It’s no punishment to him, it’s just that we’re trying to get a little bit of offence from everybody, and particularly with Luca, for his line to get somebody to go to the front of the net and do some mucking and grinding in the corners. It might help.”
To further help the Leafs’ cause is the possible absence of Senators captain and leading scorer Daniel Alfredsson. Alfredsson, bothered by a lower-body injury, left practice early on Monday and didn’t take part in the Senators’ morning skate on Tuesday.
“It’s getting better today, for sure. Obviously it wasn’t good enough to go on the ice this morning,” Alfredsson said when asked if he would be playing against the Leafs. “But I hope by tonight it’s going to be good enough to play.”
Alfredsson, who has had a history of groin problems, said he plans to take part in the pre-game skate and decide at that time whether or not he will go against the Leafs.
After outscoring opponents 16-9 to win their first four games, the Leafs’ touch around the net has dried up. They have been outscored 14-7 during a 1-4-1 stretch that has seen their record fall to 5-4-1. If any team can help the Leafs get out of their scoring funk, though, it’s the 4-6-1 Senators. They have been outscored by Toronto 18-5 in their past five meetings, including a 5-1 defeat to the Leafs at the ACC on Oct. 9.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere (4-2-1, 2.27 GAA) is once again getting the start for the Leafs.
Toronto dropped its last game 2-0 to the New York Rangers on Saturday at home and was beaten by the same score in Boston on Thursday. Ottawa is coming off a 4-0 defeat to Boston on Saturday.