|TOR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||3|
|BOS||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||0|
BOSTON (AP) _ Ed Belfour came to the right place for another shutout.
Boston was blanked for a team-record eighth time at home, and Belfour posted his eighth shutout of the season, leading the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-0 victory Thursday night.
``I don't have an explanation for it,'' Boston coach Mike Sullivan said. ``We generate as many scoring chances at home as we do on the road.''
Toronto got goals from Joe Nieuwendyk and Ron Francis _ his first since being obtained from Carolina on March 9 _ in the first nine minutes of the second period and an empty-net goal from Nik Antropov with 1:43 left in the game.
Belfour made sure that was enough.
It's not as if he needs a road-ice advantage in stopping shots. His 73 career shutouts rank 10th in NHL history.
``I've played with him a long time and been through a few wars with him,'' said Nieuwendyk, Belfour's former teammate with Dallas. ``He will come through when it counts.''
It did Thursday when Toronto cut Boston's lead in the Northeast Division to one point, 97-96. The Bruins have five regular-season games left, while the Maple Leafs have four.
Belfour made 33 saves, the same amount he had in his last game, a 7-2 loss Tuesday night to Tampa Bay.
``A lot of teams might be affected by a 7-2 loss, but we responded,'' Nieuwendyk said.
Belfour faced few difficult shots by Boston, which was hurt by four penalties in the first period.
``We wanted to keep (the puck) near the net as much as possible but they collapsed really well,'' Boston's Joe Thornton said of Toronto's skaters. ``Eddie only got tested about five or six times.''
Francis, 41; Belfour, 38; and Nieuwendyk, 37; were the Maple Leafs' stars.
``Our veteran players shored up their game,'' Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. ``We were disciplined and did the simple things we hadn't been doing recently.''
The Maple Leafs came back from a 2-1 loss to Boston nine days earlier and are 4-2 in their last six games. The Bruins lost for just the second time in 10 games (7-2-1) and suffered their 10th shutout of the season. The previous team record for home shutouts was six in 1951-52.
Nieuwendyk scored his fifth goal in nine games and 19th of the season from just outside the crease on a rebound after goalie Andrew Raycroft stopped a shot by Antropov.
Francis connected at 8:40 on a soft 15-footer that fooled defenseman Sergei Gonchar and Raycroft, who were expecting a harder blast.
``He missed it, a changeup, a Tim Wakefield knuckleball,'' Raycroft said.
It was Francis' 11th goal of the season and his 137th point in 130 games against the Bruins.
``It wasn't a pretty goal and I don't know if it even hit the back of the net,'' Francis said.
|Joe Nieuwendyk (19) ASST: Nik Antropov (17), Alexei Ponikarovsky (17)|
1 - 0 TOR
|Ron Francis (11) ASST: Owen Nolan (29), Bryan McCabe (36)|
2 - 0 TOR
|EN - Nik Antropov (12) ASST: Alexei Ponikarovsky (18), Joe Nieuwendyk (27)|
3 - 0 TOR
|P.J. Axelsson Hooking - Obstruction|
|Nick Boynton Hooking|
|Thomas Fitzgerald Holding|
|Martin Lapointe Slashing|
|Sean O'Donnell Cross checking|
|Doug Doull Fighting|
|Tie Domi Fighting|
|Robert Reichel Holding|
|Brian Rolston Roughing|
|Owen Nolan Roughing|
|Nik Antropov Roughing|
|Glen Murray Interference|
|Michael Nylander Hi-sticking|
|Alexander Mogilny Tripping|
|Joe Thornton Hi-sticking|