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Thursday, 01.17.2008 / 7:00 PM

Associated Press

The Toronto Maple Leafs' season-high losing streak is over. The pressure they have been facing sure isn't.

They hope to get some relief Thursday night as they try to avoid a seventh straight loss on the road and fourth in as many meetings this season with the division rival Boston Bruins.

The Maple Leafs (17-21-8) are at the bottom of the Northeast Division and ahead of only Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference standings. The current six-game road losing streak is their longest since ending 2006-07 with seven straight road defeats.

That slide contributed to them missing the playoffs for a second consecutive year, and this season appears to be headed in the same direction.

Toronto, outscored 27-10 in its last six road games, has only won three times in its last 14 games overall (3-9-2). The disappointing stretch has applied more pressure on general manager John Ferguson and coach Paul Maurice, who is in his second season with the club.

Fans at Air Canada Centre chanted "Fire Ferguson! Fire Ferguson!" on Tuesday despite the Leafs' 5-4 win over Carolina, which halted their five-game skid.

"It's a win and we're taking it," Maurice said. "With all that was going on ... getting back to just playing hockey ... in some ways, it becomes easier."

A victory in Boston (22-18-4) could make things easier on Maurice, Ferguson and the Leafs when they return home Saturday to face Buffalo.

Toronto, though, has lost four straight and eight of 10 to the Bruins. The Leafs have been outscored 11-5 in three meetings this season, and the most lopsided of those defeats came in their only trip to Boston - 5-2 on Nov. 15.

Both games since that one were in Toronto - 4-2 on Nov. 20 and 2-1 on Dec. 8 - and Vesa Toskala was in net for the Leafs in both losses. He struggled again Tuesday despite winning, stopping just 21 of 25 shots, and is 2-4-1 with a 3.12 GAA in his last seven starts.

Toronto could use more production from captain Mats Sundin, the team leader with 20 goals and 50 points. The All-Star center has no goals and two assists over the last four games, and has just two points during the Leafs' four-game slide against Boston.

The Bruins, meanwhile, are looking to build on a 4-3 overtime win at Philadelphia on Saturday as defenseman Aaron Ward scored 43 seconds into the extra period.

Ward has goals in consecutive games after missing eight with a broken foot. The 13-year veteran, who celebrates his 35th birthday Thursday, has four goals on the season, two shy of his career high set in 2005-06 with Carolina.

Boston continues to get production from Marc Savard, who was added to the Eastern Conference All-Star team Monday. The center, who has a team-leading 47 points, had a goal and an assist against the Flyers and has three of each over the last six games.

2007-2008 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 27 '08TOR 2 at BOS 4G. Murray
Mar 25 '08BOS 6 at TOR 2M. Sturm
Mar 06 '08TOR 8 at BOS 2B. McCabe
Feb 16 '08BOS 3 at TOR 4 - OTD. Tucker
Jan 17 '08TOR 3 at BOS 2 - SOM. Sundin
Dec 08 '07BOS 2 at TOR 1D. Wideman
Nov 20 '07BOS 4 at TOR 2C. Kobasew
Nov 15 '07TOR 2 at BOS 5G. Metropolit
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
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