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Leafs, 'Canes Renew Acquaintances

Monday, 23.02.2004 / 9:11 AM / News
Toronto Maple Leafs
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Leafs, \'Canes Renew Acquaintances

GAME: Carolina Hurricanes (18-27-12-3) at Toronto Maple Leafs (34-16-9-3).

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

With an unsteady situation in net, the Toronto Maple Leafs hope their offense continues to roll as they take on the league's lowest-scoring team, the Carolina Hurricanes.

Though Gary Roberts is sidelined with a groin injury, the Maple Leafs have kept up an impressive scoring pace. They've averaged four goals a game in their last 11 outings, going 7-3-1 during that stretch.

Toronto is fourth in the league with 181 goals scored this season.

Roberts, tied for the team lead with 22 goals, is on injured reserve along with top goaltender Ed Belfour. The 15-year veteran has played in only one game since January due to back problems, though Belfour may return this week.

Who Belfour's backup will be when he comes back is in question.

That job belonged to Trevor Kidd, but he is just 1-3-1 while allowing 22 goals in his last five starts. Mikael Tellqvist, meanwhile, has yet to lose this season, going 5-0-2.

Tellqvist made 27 saves Saturday as Toronto beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-4. The 24-year-old rookie has won all three of his starts since being recalled from the minors on Feb. 14.

"It's hard to say whether I've earned it or not," Tellqvist said of the backup job. "Of course, I want to be here. It's everybody's dream to play at this level."

Another rookie has keyed Toronto's offense lately, with Matthew Strajan contributing four goals and three assists in the last five games.

Other Leafs helping carry the offense are Mats Sundin, with five goals and seven assists in his last 10 games, and Owen Nolan, with 10 points in the last eight.

The Hurricanes are last in the NHL with 116 goals scored.

Their offense has shown signs of life lately by scoring at least three goals in five of the last nine games, but the team has won only once during that span (1-4-3-1).

Carolina is 0-for-11 on the power play in the last two games and has scored on just 11.2 percent of its opportunities with the man advantage this season - worst in the league.

Coach Peter Laviolette talked about his team's struggles on offense following Saturday's 3-3 tie with the Boston Bruins.

"We're pressing, we're looking, we're down there and we're trying to create, and we come up short," Laviolette said. "A goal on the power play tonight could've been the difference."

-- Associated Press

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