Phil Kessel, Leafs bring red-hot offence to Colorado

Toronto will look to avenge a defeat at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche earlier this season when they face off Tuesday (9 p.m. ET) in Denver.

Toronto has scored 18 goals during current 5-game win streak

The surging Leafs have received an offensive boost from star winger Phil Kessel, who has tallied four goals and eight assists during a six-game point streak. He'll face the Avalanche in Denver on Tuesday night. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Toronto Maple Leafs have rebounded from a recent skid by pouring in plenty of goals during a winning streak that's on the verge of becoming the team's longest in more than eight years.

Toronto had trouble getting the puck past Semyon Varlamov the first time it faced the Colorado Avalanche, a defeat it will look to avenge Tuesday (9 p.m. ET) in Denver.

We feel this group can continue to grow and play to a higher level — enough talking about it.- Maple Leafs bench boss Randy Carlyle

The Maple Leafs (26-20-5) scored seven times during a four-game losing streak from Jan. 4-10, but they've followed that skid by netting 18 non-shootout goals during their current five-game run.

Phil Kessel, Jake Gardiner and Nazem Kadri each had a goal and an assist in Monday's 4-2 victory at Phoenix. Kessel has four goals and eight assists during a six-game point streak.

''We feel this group can continue to grow and play to a higher level — enough talking about it,'' coach Randy Carlyle said. ''Actions speaks louder than words, and we have to continue to challenge this group to play better and become a playoff team.''

Jonathan Bernier, who stopped 31 shots in Toronto's 2-1 loss to Colorado on Nov. 3, made 39 saves to win his fourth straight start. Despite his current hot stretch, the Leafs may decide to start James Reimer in net Tuesday in the second of a back-to-back set.

Toronto, which has scored first four times during its streak, hasn't won six straight since Dec. 22, 2005-Jan. 2, 2006.

''It feels great,'' Bernier said. ''We know if we score the first goal in this league, you have a good chance to win. That's our main focus.''

Avs seeking 5th straight win

Varlamov made 27 saves in the first meeting with Toronto, and he'll likely be back in net for this matchup after stopping 27 shots in Saturday's 5-4 win over Nashville.

He's 11-0-5 with a 2.23 goals-against average over his last 16 starts, tying the team record for most consecutive games without a regulation defeat.

Colorado (31-12-5) will be seeking a fifth straight victory after Nick Holden had two goals and an assist against the Predators. Matt Duchene, Jan Hejda and captain Gabriel Landeskog had one goal apiece.

''I think every game someone else is stepping up,'' Holden said. ''We've gone through a lot of injuries. It's showed the adversity of our team here to battle through it. Every night is a different guy, and tonight it was luckily me.''

P.A. Parenteau, who scored in the first meeting with Toronto, has been out since suffering a knee injury Dec. 29 and likely will be out another couple of weeks. The Avalanche, though, got centre Paul Stastny back after he missed the previous two contests with a leg injury.

Stastny, along with rookie Nathan MacKinnon and centre John Mitchell, finished with two assists Saturday as Colorado jumped out to a three-goal lead in the first period.

Nashville scored the game's last three goals, but that doesn't worry coach Patrick Roy.

''It's not important how the game ends,'' Roy said. ''It's the result at the end. We won the game.''

Varlamov is 2-0-1 with a 1.95 GAA in three career starts against the Maple Leafs. Reimer is 1-0-1 with a 2.97 GAA in two starts versus Colorado.


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