Leafs Face Bruins Divisional Tilt
GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (41-24-9-3) at Boston Bruins (38-17-14-7).
TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EDT.
Nothing has been determined in the Northeast Division.
But the Boston Bruins are in the driver's seat.
The Bruins will try to put more distance between themselves and the competition when they take on the second-place Toronto Maple Leafs.
With Tuesday's 4-2 win over third-place Ottawa, the Bruins moved three points ahead of the Maple Leafs and four in front of Ottawa with six games remaining.
"We played well tonight from the beginning to the end," said Sergei Samsonov, who had a goal and an assist in the win. "It was a pretty solid game. With a couple of teams losing, we're creeping up in the division standings."
In third place overall in the Eastern Conference, the Bruins, who have won seven of their last nine (7-1-1), are just two points back of first-place Tampa Bay, which hosts New Jersey on Thursday.
Calder Trophy candidate Andrew Raycroft has played a huge role in the Bruins' recent surge, winning his last five starts in goal with a 2.16 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage (133-for-144). He made 28 saves in the win over Ottawa.
The Maple Leafs are coming off arguably their worst performance of the season in a 7-2 home loss to the Lightning on Tuesday. Toronto took several early penalties and fell behind by three goals by the end of the first period.
"We weren't a very smart hockey team, and quite frankly we didn't want to work hard enough for it," said Toronto coach Pat Quinn, whose team is just 6-5 in March.
The most penalized team in the league, Toronto has allowed 11 power-play goals in the last five games.
Maple Leafs goalie Ed Belfour, who had allowed just six goals in his previous three starts, was peppered with 40 shots and allowed all seven goals.
"I just didn't get it done," Belfour said. "I'll look at the tape and see what I have to do."
STANDINGS: Maple Leafs - 94 points, 2nd place, 3 PB, Northeast Division. Bruins - 97 points, 1st place, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Mats Sundin, 30 goals, 42 assists, and 72 points; Tie Domi, 203 PIM. Bruins - Glen Murray, 30 goals; Joe Thornton, 48 assists and 70 points; Doug Doull, 120 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 23): Maple Leafs - Power play: 20.2 percent (70 for 347), 5th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.2 percent (302 for 363), 21st. Bruins - Power play: 16.5 percent (44 for 266), 13th. Penalty killing: 83.6 percent (254 for 304), 19th.
GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Belfour (30-19-5, 7 SO, 2.26 GAA); Trevor Kidd (6-5-2, 1, 3.26). Boston - Raycroft (27-16-8, 3, 2.01); Felix Potvin (11-8-6, 4, 2.52).
SEASON SERIES: Bruins, 3-2.
LAST MEETING: March 16; Bruins, 2-1. At Toronto, Travis Green, waived by the Maple Leafs in October, scored twice as the Bruins clinched a playoff spot.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 20-10-7-1 on the road; Bruins - 17-10-8-2 at home.-- Associated Press