(Sports Network) - A flip of the calendar and outstanding play from a rookie goaltender has helped the Maple Leafs rediscover the success they once had at the early stages of the season.
Toronto will try to win five straight games for the first time in nearly four years and halt the Phoenix Coyotes' six-game point streak this evening at Jobing.com Arena.
The Maple Leafs are 5-1-0 since the start of January and have won four straight for the first time since beginning the season 4-0. They have taken the first three contests of a four-game road trip, pushing their road win streak to five in a row, and Toronto can claim five consecutive victories tonight for the first time since Jan. 27-Feb. 6, 2007.
This current swing made a stop in San Jose on Tuesday and Toronto head coach Ron Wilson earned the 600th win of his career with a 4-2 triumph against his former club. Wilson coached the Sharks for four-plus seasons before getting fired in May of 2008, but returned for the second time since and led the Leafs to their first win at San Jose since 1997.
"Well, it's pretty special. I mean, obviously, I think only six other guys have done it. You don't see it very often," Wilson said. "The best thing is that we managed to find a way to do it here."
Carl Gunnarsson had the game-winner as part of a three-goal third period, Clarke MacArthur scored twice andPhil Kessel scored in his fourth straight game. Kessel has five goals in that span, while MacArthur has four tallies and three assists over his last four games.
James Reimer made 40 saves and has been in net for each of the last three wins, stopping 111 of the 118 shots faced. Even though Jean-Sebastien Giguere was on pace to return from a groin injury tonight, the 22-year-old Reimer will instead get his fourth straight start and sixth of his career.
"He's earned the shot to keep on playing," Wilson said on Wednesday. "We're playing really well in front of him, it's just common sense. We've got some momentum here, we're not going to toy with that kind of karma we've got going for our team."
It is unknown if Giguere, who hasn't played since Dec. 16, or Jonas Gustavsson will serve as the backup.
Despite their current run, the Leafs are still just 9-10-1 overall on the road and 11 points back of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. Tonight, they'll try to slow down a Coyotes club that is 4-0-2 in its last six and is coming off a 4-3 victory in Columbus on Tuesday.
Radim Vrbata and Derek Morris scored third-period goals as Phoenix rallied from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1. Morris ended a 20-game goal drought, while Eric Belanger also scored for the first time in 28 games.
"We gave up a couple early but we came in and got nothing to lose," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said. "We got in at three o'clock this morning in a snowstorm. It's just a good night for hockey and our guys were enjoying it and we felt like we could come back."
Ilya Bryzgalov made 37 saves for the victory and is a perfect 3-0-0 with a 1.75 GAA in his career versus Toronto.
Michal Rozsival, who was acquired from the Rangers on Monday for forward Wojtek Wolski, was unable to join the team, but the blueliner is expected to be with the club for this game.
Phoenix is six points behind first-place Dallas in the Pacific Division and begins a four-game homestand tonight.
The Coyotes notched a 6-3 victory at Toronto last year to run their series winning streak to four games. Phoenix has not lost to the Leafs since Oct. 23, 2003, winning two straight and three of its last four as the host versus Toronto.