Goaltending has been a much-discussed issue in Toronto over the last week, but it appears Ben Scrivens has earned another start for the surprising Maple Leafs.
The rookie could make a second straight start Saturday night when Toronto hosts the Ottawa Senators, losers of a season-high five straight.
After Toronto (10-5-1) placed James Reimer on injured reserve Oct. 23 with concussion-like symptoms, Jonas Gustavsson started the next five games, but he was inconsistent and Scrivens has started three of the last four games with a relief appearance in the other.
After Gustavsson and Scrivens combined to give up 12 goals in losses to Boston and Florida, Scrivens was solid in a 3-2 shootout win over St. Louis on Thursday, making 38 saves.
When asked if the rookie would get another chance Saturday, coach Ron Wilson noted he would "ask the goaltenders' mothers," a reference to a Toronto newspaper story this week in which Reimer's mother questioned the severity of her son's injury.
While the Maple Leafs and Reimer's agent said he's making progress, the development of Scrivens has been one positive that's come out of a difficult situation. He is 2-1-0 as a starter, giving up eight goals.
Wilson said Scrivens is playing well, although he expects there to be a learning curve as he adjusts to the NHL.
"He's a talented athlete," Wilson said. "What he's got to go through is the experience of playing in this kind of market, dealing with the sudden fame and attention. That's hard to deal with if you're (used to) Cornell, where not a heck of a lot is going on. ... This is entirely different.
"There's no school you go to how to handle a crush of media and attention. You can't go anywhere and get that."
Despite an inconsistent presence in net, the Maple Leafs are near the top of the Eastern Conference. Phil Kessel has been the biggest reason for the team's success, leading the NHL with 12 goals and 23 points. He has a goal in each of his last two games.
Kessel had three goals and an assist in a 6-5 win over the Senators on Oct. 8, but was held scoreless in a 3-2 loss in Ottawa on Oct. 30.
The Senators (7-9-1) haven't won since that victory over the Maple Leafs, losing their fifth straight with Friday's 5-1 defeat at Buffalo. Craig Anderson was pulled after giving up two goals on six shots over the first 2 1/2 minutes. Alex Auld stopped 12 of 15 shots the rest of the way.
Coach Paul MacLean didn't know who would start Saturday, but was more focused on getting the offense to be aggressive.
Even the return of captain Daniel Alfredsson, who missed the previous five games with a concussion, failed to help a struggling offense. Ottawa has scored six goals in the last four games and went 1 for 4 on the power play after entering the night 0 for 11 the previous four games.
"We have to shore up some things,'' forward Nick Foligno said. ``It wasn't a step back, but we have to re-evaluate how we need to play.''
Leading scorer Jason Spezza has cooled off considerably. He has no goals and two assists in his last six games after tallying five and six in his previous six.
This wasn't the way the Senators hoped to start a six-game road trip following an 0-2-1 homestand. Ottawa is 2-5-0 on the road, giving up 29 goals.
A visit to Air Canada Centre might not help. The Senators have lost nine of their last 13 visits to Toronto.