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Gameday preview

Friday, 03.01.2003 / 12:00 AM / News
Toronto Maple Leafs
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GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (19-14-4-1) at New Jersey Devils (20-11-2-3).

TIME: Friday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were successful playing one game without three of their four leading scorers. They hope they don't get the chance to do it again.

Surging Toronto could get captain Mats Sundin, Alexander Mogilny and Mikael Renberg back in the lineup Friday night in the opener of a home-and-home series against the New Jersey Devils.

Belfour should go head-to-head with Marty Brodeur tonight.
Graig Abel Photography
Despite missing Sundin, Mogilny, Renberg and defenseman Karel Pilar, the Maple Leafs overcame a two-goal deficit Tuesday en route to a 5-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

"It reminded me of one of our playoff games last year," coach Pat Quinn said. "We were down to nine forwards and five defensemen toward the last part of the game. Our guys did a heck of a job and our goaltender was really good." Sundin, the team leader with 18 goals, has missed the last two games with a bruised shoulder. Mogilny is listed as day-to-day with a sore back and Renberg missed Tuesday's game with an infected finger.

Even with all the injuries, the Leafs have picked up points in seven consecutive games (4-0-2-1). They have been one of the league's best teams the past two months, going 15-5-2-1 since a 4-9-2-0 start.

The one constant for Quinn's team has been goalie Ed Belfour, who is among the NHL leaders with 17 wins, a 2.01 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage.

A 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Wednesday followed a very familiar formula for the Devils -- strong defense and goaltending, but little offense.

Sergei Brylin scored in the first period for New Jersey, which dropped to 4-2-1 in its last seven.

"We can't take these teams lightly," Brylin said. "We had a good start and scored the goal, but they kind of slowed it down." The Devils have scored 86 goals in 36 games. Only Buffalo, Philadelphia and Carolina have scored fewer in the Eastern Conference.

However, team defense and the goaltending of Martin Brodeur have kept New Jersey at or near the top of the Atlantic Division most of the season. The Devils have surrendered a league-low 75 goals.

STANDINGS (through Jan. 1): Maple Leafs - 43 points, 3rd place, 8 PB, Northeast Division. Devils - 45 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Sundin, 18 goals; Mogilny, 25 assists and 41 points; Tie Domi, 74 PIM. Devils - Jamie Langenbrunner, 10 goals; Brian Rafalski, 18 assists; John Madden, Patrik Elias and Langenbrunner, 20 points; Turner Stevenson, 65 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 1): Maple Leafs - Power play: 20.4 percent (37 for 181), 5th in NHL. Penalty killing: 86.4 percent (172 for 199), 5th. Devils - Power play: 11.0 percent (15 for 136), 29th. Penalty killing: 87.0 percent (107 for 123), 2nd.

GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Belfour (17-10-3, 5 SO, 2.01 GAA); Trevor Kidd (2-5-1, 3.74). Devils - Brodeur (19-12-2, 4, 2.01); Corey Schwab (1-2-0, 1.69).

SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 7; Maple Leafs, 1-0. At Toronto, Belfour made 38 saves and Travis Green scored in the first period for the Leafs.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 6-7-2-1 on the road; Devils - 11-6-1-1 at home.

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