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Leafs Start the New Year in Beantown

Thursday, 01.1.2004 / 10:02 AM ET / News
Toronto Maple Leafs
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Leafs Start the New Year in Beantown

GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (21-7-7-3) at Boston Bruins (14-11-9-4).

TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Boston Bruins have been awful at home. They shouldn't expect any courtesy from the league-leading Toronto Maple Leafs when the teams get together at FleetCenter.

The Bruins began a three-game homestand with a 3-0 loss to Ottawa on Tuesday, their fifth shutout loss of the season and third during their nine-game home winless streak (0-5-4).

Boston last won at home on Nov. 20, 3-2 over Washington. The Bruins have not struggled this badly in Boston since going 0-4-4-1 from Dec. 21, 1999-Jan. 24, 2000.

"We're squeezing our sticks harder here," Bruins captain Joe Thornton said. "We're a lot more freewheeling on the road."

The Bruins have scored 10 goals during their nine-game skid, and more than one in just two games during that span.

In Tuesday's loss, Boston went without a power-play goal for the fourth straight game, finishing 0-for-5 overall. The Bruins managed just 13 shots over the final two periods, including just four in the third, and allowed their eighth short-handed goal of the season, second in the league.

"It's frustrating, without a doubt," Bruins coach Mike Sullivan said. "We're not in this to lose, we're in this to win. We're looking to get into the win column on a consistent basis. Our scorers right now are having trouble finding the back of the net. We just have to continue to fight through it."

After their franchise-record 16-game point streak ended with a 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday, Toronto rallied from a two-goal deficit to tie the Florida Panthers 4-4 on Monday.

Owen Nolan snapped a nine-game scoreless streak with two goals in the third period.

"I feel I need to go to the net and create space," Nolan said. "I've had some opportunities and I haven't scored. But I'm just trying to contribute any way I can."

Darcy Tucker scored for the third consecutive game and Nik Antropov also had a goal for Toronto, which got 35 saves from Ed Belfour.

Coach Pat Quinn said after the game center Robert Reichel will miss four to six weeks because of a shoulder injury sustained Friday against the New York Rangers.

The Maple Leafs have won the last three meetings with the Bruins, including a 6-0 victory at FleetCenter on Dec. 4. Belfour is 13-4-3 with four shutouts lifetime against Boston.

-- Associated Press

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