With their solid play over the last few weeks, the Toronto Maple Leafs are right in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. They’ll look to keep the momentum going against an opponent that’s looking for some revenge.
The Maple Leafs go for their third straight win Tuesday and try to break a logjam for a possible playoff spot when they host the Boston Bruins, who were embarrassed at home by Toronto last month.
The Maple Leafs (29-22-8) are 9-2-2 since Jan. 16 and have 66 points to tie Montreal and the New York Islanders for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
“But it’s no time to relax,” Toronto captain Mats Sundin said after a 4-3 win over Edmonton on Saturday. “We can’t pat ourselves on the back because we’re in a playoff spot. There’s lots of work ahead of us.”
Toronto is 12-5-2 since Jan. 1, a stretch that began with a 5-1 victory over the Bruins. Three days later in Boston, the Maple Leafs rolled to a 10-2 win, handing the Bruins their most lopsided loss in nearly 20 years.
Alex Steen had a hat trick and two assists while Matthew Stajan had two goals and two assists for Toronto in the rout.
As poor as Boston has played in its last two games against Toronto, the Bruins had owned the series earlier this season, winning four straight and outscoring them 12-4 in those contests.
Sundin, who had two goals and an assist in his last game against Boston, tallied twice in Saturday’s win over the Oilers. With 386 goals in a Toronto uniform, Sundin needs three more to tie Darryl Sittler for the most in team history.
“He’s so unbelievable. He’s a way better leader and a better guy than he is than a player and that says a lot because he’s so good,” said John Pohl, who recorded his first two-goal game in the NHL Saturday. “We’re all lucky to play with him. Hopefully, he can keep playing at that level.”
Goaltender Andrew Raycroft made 28 saves against Edmonton, and is 7-1-2 with a 2.16 goals-against average since Jan. 27. Raycroft, who has made 20 consecutive starts for Toronto, is 3-2-0 with a 2.42 GAA in his career against Boston—the team with which he won the Calder Trophy in 2003-04.
The Bruins beat Philadelphia 6-3 on Monday, recording their most goals since a 7-2 win over Ottawa on Dec. 19. They have won four of their last five games to move within six points of the final playoff spot in the East.
Boston tied a season-low with low 18 shots Monday, but managed two goals from unheralded Petr Tenkrat, who hadn’t scored in his last 25 games.
“We need some scoring from some other guys,” Bruins coach Dave Lewis said. “We talked about that as a group the other night. Some of the other guys have to step up. We can’t keep going to the same well. They responded tonight.”
Tim Thomas stopped 30 shots against the Flyers and is 6-2-0 with a 2.55 GAA since Feb. 3. Thomas has allowed 13 goals in his last two games against the Maple Leafs, but is still 4-2-0 with a 3.26 GAA against them in 2006-07.