Maple Leafs-Predators Preview


The short-handed Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to get at least one player back following their first loss of the season, but the status of their leading scorer is unknown.

Joffrey Lupul is dealing with an injured calf but will travel with the Maple Leafs for Thursday night's game against the Nashville Predators.

The Maple Leafs (3-1-0) are missing Mark Fraser, Nikolai Kulemin and Frazer McLaren to injury, and David Clarkson is almost halfway through his 10-game suspension. Jay McClement missed the Leafs' matchup with Colorado on Tuesday after his wife went into labor.

"You're going to have to deal with adversity throughout the course of the season," coach Randy Carlyle said. "And injuries and birth of children, family illness - all those things roll into the things that you have to deal with. We're no different than anybody else."

McClement returned to practice Wednesday after the birth of his son, Reid, a day earlier. Lupul, though, was forced to sit out because of the injury he suffered in a 2-1 loss to the Avalanche.

Lupul has a team-best five points and scored his second goal in as many games in the loss to Colorado.

"It's nothing other than a bruise. He's day-to-day," Carlyle said. "It'll be dependent on how he feels. He'll make the trip with us. We haven't made a determination. Hopefully, the swelling will subside and he'll be back to normal."

The Maple Leafs are hoping Lupul will be available to prevent Nashville from building on its first win of the season. The Predators (1-2-0) used three first-period goals, including Eric Nystrom converting his first career penalty shot, for a 3-2 victory against visiting Minnesota on Tuesday.

"You couldn't have scripted it any better to score a goal like that, kind of dramatic fashion and ended up being the game winner against your former team," Nystrom said. "It was pretty exciting. It was fun to play here and get our first win of the season."

That win kicked off a five-game homestand for Nashville, and the Predators' three goals matched their output from their first two games.

"It's always nice to win the first one and try to build some confidence, some good things and keep moving forward when we're at home because we're going to be on the road quite a while," captain Shea Weber said.

Weber and the Predators are facing Toronto for the first time since a 4-1 home win Nov. 17, 2011. Pekka Rinne made 38 saves while helping Nashville pull away in that game.

Predators center Mike Fisher has a point in each of his team's first three games. He's totaled three goals and three assists in his last four games against Toronto but the most recent matchup was on Nov. 17, 2011.

The Maple Leafs might use Jonathan Bernier against Fisher and the Predators. He's 7-1-0 with a 1.88 goals-against average in eight lifetime matchups, including a 5-1 win for Los Angeles on March 4.