|BOS||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||6|
|TOR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||2|
It has taken an impressive run without their top two scorers to even keep the Toronto Maple Leafs' longshot bid for a playoff spot alive.
With two more wins this week, the prospects for postseason in Toronto could become a whole lot more likely.
The Leafs will seek to win their fourth straight game while handing the eighth-place Boston Bruins their fourth straight loss as the teams begin a home-and-home series in Toronto on Tuesday.
Toronto's recent run of five wins in six games may not have been as relevant if it hadn't been accompanied by continued struggles by the Bruins, whose grip on the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference has loosened after losses in six of their last seven and nine of 11.
"We're showing what keeping the faith can do for a team," Toronto's Alex Steen said. "We don't quit."
The Maple Leafs (35-31-10) are still in 12th place in the East, and must pass Florida, Buffalo, Washington and the Bruins to earn a playoff berth, but they're only four points behind Boston (37-28-10). They've played one more game than the Bruins, but can tie their Northeast Division rivals with a pair of regulation wins over them this week.
They will have to continue to do it without both Mats Sundin and Nik Antropov, however. Sundin, who leads the team with 77 points, has missed the last four games with a groin injury, while Antropov - second on the squad with 52 points - has been out for three games with a knee problem.
Toronto has won three straight anyway - all on the road - including wins in the last two games at Buffalo and Ottawa. The Leafs beat the Senators 5-4 on Saturday, erasing a 4-2 deficit with three straight goals, including the winner in the final period by Matt Stajan.
"This was a big win for us," Stajan said. "We're battling for our lives, and with the injuries we have we're showing what kind of guys we have. We're not going to give up."
A win over the Bruins would be even bigger. Boston appeared all but assured of a playoff spot a few weeks ago, but has seen its lead shrink to just two points over Washington.
The Bruins, already on their third three-game losing streak this month, have only managed more than two goals in a game once in March. In its last 12 games, Boston has only 18 goals.
The Bruins earned a point for the first time in eight games this season against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, but still lost 3-2 in a shootout.
"It's kind of like a broken record, but we have a hard time finishing and scoring goals and it always seems to come back and bite us," Bruins coach Claude Julien told the team's official Web site. "We're going to have to find ways to put pucks in."
Defense was the problem against Toronto on March 6, when the Leafs won 8-2 in Boston. Antropov and Sundin combined for three goals and two assists in that game.
Toronto has won three straight against the Bruins after dropping the first three meetings this season.
The teams close the season series at the TD Banknorth Garden on Thursday.
|Mar 27 '08||TOR 2 at BOS 4||G. Murray|
|Mar 25 '08||BOS 6 at TOR 2||M. Sturm|
|Mar 06 '08||TOR 8 at BOS 2||B. McCabe|
|Feb 16 '08||BOS 3 at TOR 4 - OT||D. Tucker|
|Jan 17 '08||TOR 3 at BOS 2 - SO||M. Sundin|
|Dec 08 '07||BOS 2 at TOR 1||D. Wideman|
|Nov 20 '07||BOS 4 at TOR 2||C. Kobasew|
|Nov 15 '07||TOR 2 at BOS 5||G. Metropolit|