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Game Day Preview

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (30-21-4-1) at Chicago Blackhawks (23-20-10-3).

TIME: Wednesday, 8 p.m. EST.

The United Center will be a welcome sight for the struggling Chicago Blackhawks as they return home from a tough seven-game road trip to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Blackhawks wrapped up the season high-trying trip with a 2-4-1 record after Monday's 2-1 loss at Vancouver.

Mark Bell scored Chicago's lone goal and Jocelyn Thibault made 29 saves for the Blackhawks, who have just two wins in their last 11 games (2-7-2).

Tomas Kaberle is looking for a win in Chicago.
Graig Abel Photography
The loss dropped Chicago into ninth place in the Western Conference, two points behind eighth-place Anaheim for the final playoff spot.

"I hate losing, especially recently, because we ve been playing hard," said Thibault, who posted his league-leading seventh shutout Saturday against Edmonton.

"It's not like we don't give a darn, we battled hard, but we can't score." Contributing to the Blackhawks' woes has been their ineptitude on the man advantage. The Blackhawks own the league's worst power-play unit and are 2-for-33 with the extra skater over the last 10 games.

That unit may struggle further against the Maple Leafs, who are tops in the league at killing penalties (87.9 percent).

Toronto did allow a power-play goal in Tuesday's 5-4 loss to Edmonton, snapping its five-game winning streak.

Mats Sundin, Alyn McCauley and Tie Domi scored for Toronto, but Ed Belfour allowed a season high-tying five goals.

Belfour, who had won four straight before Tuesday's setback, has won eight of 12 with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage during the stretch.

STANDINGS: Maple Leafs - 65 points, 2nd place, 11 PB, Northeast Division.
Blackhawks - 59 points, 3rd place, 13 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS:
Maple Leafs - Sundin, 27 goals; Alexander Mogilny, 34 assists and 56 points; Domi, 112 PIM.
Blackhawks - Sergei Berezin, 16 goals; Alex Zhamnov, 36 assists and 45 points; Bell, 94 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 10):
Maple Leafs - Power play: 18.1 percent (45 for 148), 10th in NHL. Penalty killing: 87.9 percent (247 for 281), 1st.
Blackhawks - Power play: 11.3 percent (25 for 221), 30th. Penalty killing: 87.3 percent (226 for 259), 5th.

GOALTENDERS:
Maple Leafs - Belfour (25-15-3, 6, 2.14); Trevor Kidd (4-6-1, 3.29).
Blackhawks - Thibault (23-17-7, 7, 2.11); Steve Passmore (0-2-0, 3.60).

2001-02 SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 1, 2001; Maple Leafs, 4-1. At Toronto, Joseph made 30 saves, including a first-period penalty shot. Sundin, Robert Reichel, Tomas Kaberle, and Darcy Tucker scored for Toronto. Former Maple Leaf Steve Sullivan scored for the Blackhawks.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 9-14-6-2 on the road; Blackhawks - 14-6-4-1 at home.
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