March 20, 2004
GAME: Colorado Avalanche (38-19-12-5) at Toronto Maple Leafs (40-23-9-3).
TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.
Brian Leetch has been exactly as advertised for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The veteran defenseman will look to build on his best offensive game with his new team when the Maple Leafs take on the Colorado Avalanche in the teams' only meeting of the season.
Acquired from the New York Rangers on March 3, Leetch had eight assists in his first seven games with Toronto before scoring twice and adding an assist in a 3-2 win over Philadelphia on Thursday.
"I've had better chances in the time that I've been here to score," said Leetch, who netted his 25th and 26th career goals against the Flyers. "Tonight, the goalie didn't see one and the other was tipped."
Ed Belfour made 26 saves and Gary Roberts added a goal for Toronto, which pulled within one point of Boston for the Northeast Division lead. Toronto remain tied with Ottawa, which defeated Colorado 2-0 on Thursday night.
The Leafs, who won for the second time in three games following a two-game losing streak, play four of their next five at the Air Canada Centre.
Toronto defenseman Calle Johansson played his first game since coming out of retirement March 9. Defenseman Ken Klee returned for the Leafs after missing four games with an abdominal strain, but left in the third period with an upper body injury and did not return.
The Avalanche have dropped two straight. In their loss on Thursday, Peter Schaefer and Wade Redden scored first-period goals, and Patrick Lalime made 23 saves as the Senators extended their home point streak to 22 games.
David Aebischer made 33 saves for the Avs. Colorado, which lost 4-2 in Montreal on Tuesday, has lost just six of 37 road games through regulation, and has not lost three in a row away from home all season.
"We didn't play a bad game in Montreal, but tonight we weren't very sharp and they played pretty well, obviously," Avalanche captain Joe Sakic said. "It's a tough team to come back on when they're up 2-0. They play a solid game."
The Avalanche are four points behind Detroit, which tied Phoenix 1-1 on Thursday, in the race for the Western Conference's best record.
STANDINGS: Avalanche - 93 points, 1st place, Northwest Division. Maple Leafs - 92 points, 2nd place (tied), 1 PB, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Avalanche - Milan Hejduk, 35 goals; Alex Tanguay, 54 assists; Sakic, 82 points; Peter Worrell, 162 PIM. Maple Leafs - Mats Sundin, 29 goals, 41 assists and 70 points; Tie Domi, 201 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 18): Avalanche - Power play: 21.4 percent (71 for 332), 3rd in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.1 percent (276 for 328), 13th. Maple Leafs - Power play: 20.3 percent (70 for 344), 5th. Penalty killing: 83.4 percent (296 for 355), 20th.
GOALTENDERS: Avalanche - Aebischer (30-17-9, 4 SO, 2.08 GAA); Tommy Salo (18-18-6, 3, 2.54). Maple Leafs - Belfour (29-18-5, 7, 2.17); Trevor Kidd (6-5-2, 1, 3.26).
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Avalanche, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 25, 2003; Avalanche, 3-0. At Toronto, Patrick Roy tied Belfour for most shutouts among active NHL goalies with his 63rd.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Avalanche - 20-6-7-4 on the road; Maple Leafs - 20-13-2-2 at home.
-- Associated Press