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Battle For First In Boston

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

December 4, 2003

GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (13-6-5-2) at Boston Bruins (12-4-4-4).

TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.

Mats Sundin and the Toronto Maple Leafs look for their longest winning streak in 10 seasons as they take on Boston Bruins in a matchup between the top two teams in the Northeast Division.

The Maple Leafs have won six straight, and a win over the Bruins would give them their longest run since winning 10 straight during the 1993-94 season.

One of the top catalysts for the Leafs' streak has been Sundin, who is in his best stretch of the season. The Toronto captain has scored a goal in six of the last nine games, including three game-winners in the last five.

"Mats is a guy that has scored very important goals for this hockey team," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. "To me the guys that can score when there's pressure on, when there's not much room out there and in tight games, are a cut above."

On Tuesday, Sundin scored his ninth goal of the season while Joe Nieuwendyk had a goal and two assists to lead Toronto to a 5-4 win over the New York Rangers in the fight-filled second game of home-and-home series.

Owen Nolan scored the go-ahead goal in the second period, his fourth score in six games.

The Bruins, one point behind first-place Toronto, ended their four-game winless streak (0-2-1-1) with a 6-4 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Wednesday.

Boston played penalty-free hockey for the first time in more than 21/2 years and Martin Lapointe scored the go-ahead goal in his 700th NHL game.

Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist for the Bruins, who weren't called for a penalty for the first time since March 28, 2001, against the Maple Leafs, who didn't have a penalty either.

"We had to win, no matter what," goalie Andrew Raycroft said. "We let it go and tried to focus."

STANDINGS: Maple Leafs - 33 points, 1st place, Northeast Division. Bruins - 32 points, 2nd place, 1 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Sundin, 9 goals, 14 assists and 23 points; Nolan, 71 PIM. Bruins - Mike Knuble and Brian Rolston, 10 goals; Thornton, 21 assists, 27 points and 37 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 2): Maple Leafs - Power play: 15.6 percent (21 for 135), 15th in NHL (tied). Penalty killing: 83.1 percent (133 for 136), 20th. Bruins - Power play: 21.7 percent (18 for 83), 6th. Penalty killing: 78.5 percent (73 for 93), 27th.

GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Ed Belfour (10-8-3, 1 SO, 2.56 GAA); Trevor Kidd (1-0-0, 0, 2.00). Bruins - Raycroft (8-4-1, 1, 2.06; Felix Potvin (4-4-3, 2, 2.62).

2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Bruins, 3-2.

LAST MEETING: March 24; Bruins, 3-2. At Boston, Knuble scored the tiebreaking goal 15 seconds into the third period, and Steve Shields stopped 24 shots.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 8-4-4-1 on the road; Bruins - 4-2-3-1 at home.

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