NEW YORK (AP) – After finishing last in the Eastern Conference last season, the Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a surprisingly good start.
The Northeast division-leading Leafs will look to open 5-0 for the first time since 1993-94 as they host the New York Islanders on Monday night.
Phil Kessel’s second goal of the game, 3:08 into overtime, kept the Maple Leafs perfect with a 4-3 win against the New York Rangers last Friday night.
Mike Komisarek also found the back of the net with a second-period goal and is excited about Toronto’s (4-0-0) outlook.
“We’re doing a lot of positive things,” he said. “It’s a positive sort of feeling and attitude and atmosphere in the locker room. We haven’t accomplished a lot. We’re not going to sit back and dwell on our record. We’re doing a lot of good things, but we’re still a work in progress.”
Jean-Sebastien Giguere improved to 3-0-0 by stopping 21 of 24 shots against the Rangers, and his 1.98 goals-against average ranks near the top of the league.
“He made some saves, its really dark at ice level and its hard for the goalie to find the puck but he kept battling and he kept coming to the bench urging the guys on,” Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson said.
Wilson couldn’t be happier with his team’s performance and knows that the early wins will help out later in the season.
“Well that’s a question that my granddaughter would ask,” he told the team’s official site. “You know, we’re 4-0 for God’s sakes, of course it’s very satisfying. We’re happy that we’ve gotten off to this start especially in our division to get a little bit of a pad that’s going to be a long year and this is money in the bank for us when we hit hard times.”
Clarke MacArthur will try to extend his franchise record after being the first player to score in each of Toronto’s first four games.
Things are also looking up for the Islanders (2-1-2) as second-year standout John Tavares returned Saturday night after missing the previous three games with a concussion he sustained in the season opener.
Tavares netted an empty-net goal in New York’s 5-2 win over Colorado and was glad to be back on the ice.
“I felt pretty good. My legs felt good. My conditioning. My timing was pretty good. Made some plays. I felt all the ice was pretty responsible,” he said. “The more games you play the better you feel so I’m excited for the next one.”
The Islanders also received two goals from Milan Jurcina and the eventual game-winner from left wing Josh Bailey, who has made tremendous strides coming into this year and has a team-leading seven points.
“He’s just so much stronger on the puck now that things are happening more for him because of the fact that he’s just older,” Islanders coach Scott Gordon said.
The Islanders have taken three of four from Toronto, but fell 3-2 on Dec. 9, 2009, during their last visit to the Air Canada Centre.
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