Heavy Betting on Toronto as They Look to Extend Win Streak in Boston
The Maple Leafs look to extend their winning streak to five games when they visit the Boston Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden on Thursday.
Toronto also has won seven of its last eight games and would be atop the Northeast Division had it not been for the Buffalo Sabres’ record-setting start to the season.
The Sabres, who got off to a 10-0 start, have an Eastern Conference-best 31 points, six points ahead of Toronto.
The Maple Leafs (11-5-3) have been scoring goals even without leading scorer Mats Sundin, who’s missed the last two contests with a torn elbow ligament. They’ve outscored the opposition 19-7 over the last four games.
Toronto beat Montreal 5-1 on Saturday after downing Boston 6-4 two nights earlier.
“We got scoring from all the lines and that’s what you need when your top player is out,” said defenseman Bryan McCabe, who had two power-play goals and an assist against the Canadiens.
Goalie Andrew Raycroft, acquired in an offseason trade with Boston, beat the Bruins last Thursday but suffered a strained groin. He’s still out, leaving the job to backup Jean-Sebastien Aubin, who made 25 saves in the win over Montreal.
“The team is playing well, 7-1 (in the last eight games), and we don’t want it to stop there,” Aubin said. “We want to keep it going.”
Raycroft says he’s able to skate normally, but Toronto coach Paul Maurice doesn’t want take a chance and risk further injury.
While Raycroft is working his way back, Sundin’s out at least two more weeks. The Maple Leafs do get another contributor when defenseman Pavel Kubina, out since the third game with a strained left knee ligament, makes his return.
Kubina, who signed as a free agent this summer after spending his first eight seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, has one assist. He joins Tomas Kaberle (17) and McCabe (16), the top two scorers among defensemen.
This is the second of four meetings between Toronto and Boston this month. The teams also play consecutive games in Toronto at the end of November.
The Maple Leafs, 6-2-1 on the road including the victory over the Bruins (6-7-2) last week, have won three of the last four games between the teams.
Boston beat Washington 3-2 in a shootout on Wednesday, giving the team consecutive victories for the first time this season. Patrice Bergeron had the only goal in the shootout while Tim Thomas made 33 saves.
Thomas had faced only seven shots in the third period and one in overtime before stopping Alexander Semin, Alexander Ovechkin and Matt Pettinger in the shootout.
“I’ve gone into some shootouts when I faced 15 shots in the third period and then six in the overtime,” Thomas said. “I was fresh. It might have helped me.”
The victory gave the last-place Bruins 14 points. Boston hasn’t won three straight since Jan. 23-26.
by: Gary Roberts – theSpread.com – Email Us
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