Leafs Host Blues In Hogtown
GAME: St. Louis Blues (15-6-2-1) at Toronto Maple Leafs (15-6-5-2).TIME: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
With an eight-game winning streak, the Toronto Maple Leafs have moved to the top of the Northeast Division. They'll look to keep rolling when they face the St. Louis Blues in a matchup of two of the NHL's top teams.
The Leafs continued to erase the memory of a 1-2-2 start with a 5-2 victory over Detroit on Saturday. That followed a 6-0 rout of Boston, the second-place team in the Northeast, on Thursday.
Gary Roberts and Mats Sundin each had a goal and an assist against the Red Wings as the Maple Leafs knocked off another of the NHL's top clubs to extend their run.
Toronto's win streak includes two victories over Vancouver and one against Ottawa, two of the best teams in the NHL. Detroit entered the game tied for the Western Conference lead with the Canucks.
"We've played quality opponents. I'm excited with how we're playing," Sundin said. "We want to be a top team in this league. I think we have the players to be a top team."
Toronto ended Detroit's five-game unbeaten streak in a game that had just two penalties.
"This is a good team. We can play with the good teams and we really believe that now," coach Pat Quinn said.
The Leafs haven't lost at home since Nov. 1, a 7-1 rout at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers. Since that defeat, Toronto is 11-2-3-1.
Roberts returned to the lineup Saturday after missing two games with a strained hip muscle.
Toronto's victory over Detroit helped St. Louis, which is battling the Wings for first place in the Central Division. The Blues have also been off since Saturday, when they beat Nashville 4-1 to push their unbeaten streak to three games (2-0-1).
Mark Rycroft had two goals as the Blues snapped the Predators' six-game winning streak.
"We really don't look at the standings much now," Blues forward Dallas Drake said. "You look more at the standings at the end of the year when you're fighting for a playoff spot."
The Blues' Chris Osgood had to make only 15 saves against Nashville as St. Louis put together another strong defensive effort. The Blues' 53 goals allowed are the fewest in the Western Conference.
In its last 10 games, St. Louis has killed 34 of 36 power-play chances.
Blues defenceman Barret Jackman will be out three to five weeks with a shoulder strain. Jackman hurt his shoulder in the win over Boston.
Tuesday's game will be the only regular season meeting between St. Louis and Toronto.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 7): Blues - 33 points, 1st place (tied), Central Division. Maple Leafs - 37 points, 1st place, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Blues - Keith Tkachuk, 14 goals; Pavol Demitra, 17 assists and 26 points; Mike Danton, 50 PIM. Maple Leafs - Sundin, 10 goals, 17 assists and 27 points; Owen Nolan, 71 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 7): Blues - Power play: 22.2 percent (22 for 99), 5th in NHL. Penalty killing: 86.6 percent (97 for 112), 4th. Maple Leafs - Power play: 17.3 percent (24 for 139), 10th. Penalty killing: 83.7 percent (118 for 141), 16th.
GOALTENDERS: Blues - Osgood (13-6-1, 2 SO, 2.14 GAA); Brent Johnson (2-1-1, 1, 2.12). Maple Leafs - Ed Belfour (12-8-3, 2, 2.42); Trevor Kidd (1-0-0, 2.00).
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Blues, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 9, 2002; Blues, 6-3. At St. Louis, Doug Weight and Drake each scored two goals as the Blues improved to 10-2-1 on the season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blues - 6-4-1-1 on the road; Maple Leafs - 6-2-1-1 at home.