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Gameday Preview: Leafs at Detroit

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (36-22-4-1) at Detroit Red Wings (33-17-9-3).

TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Detroit Red Wings shielded Curtis Joseph from the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first meeting against the goalie's former team.

Mats is going for his 1000th point.
Graig Abel Photography
This time, there will be no such protection.

Joseph will make his first appearance against Toronto since leaving the club in the off-season when the Maple Leafs visit Joe Louis Arena.

"It'll be like a playoff atmosphere. It should be fun," said Joseph, who signed a three-year, $24 million deal with Detroit after spending four years with Toronto.

Joseph was eager to play against his former club in November, but Detroit coach Dave Lewis was fearful it would benefit the Maple Leafs.

Lewis instead turned to Manny Legace, who made 30 saves in a 2-1 victory.

"It would have been nice but the Red Wings have different ideas," Joseph said. "They thought it might give (the Leafs) a little jump, a little excitement for their game and Manny was playing well."

After struggling for most of the season, Joseph has begun to resemble the goaltender that carried Toronto to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1999 and 2002.

Though his 2.60 goals-against average and .908 save percentage are not among the league's elite, Joseph has won four of five, boasting a 2.18 GAA and .927 save percentage during that stretch.

"His play lately has been great," Wings forward Brendan Shanahan said. "We all know the true judgment is going to come at the end of the season."

Behind the strong goaltending of both Joseph and Legace, the Red Wings have won six of seven (6-0-0-1), including Monday's 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Kings.

Toronto is playing its best hockey of the season, winning 11 of its last 13 (11-2-0), including Tuesday's 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders.

Mats Sundin scored with 29th and 30th goals of the season, and Tie Domi tallied his career-high 14th for the Maple Leafs. Ed Belfour made 29 saves.

Sundin, who is two points shy of 1,000 for his career (427 goals, 571 assists), now has 10 30-goal seasons.

"He's been having some good things happen for him as far as the scoring," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said.

Maple Leafs - 77 points, 2nd place, 9 PB, Northeast Division.
Red Wings - 78 points, 1st place, Central Division.

Maple Leafs - Sundin, 30 goals; Alexander Mogilny, 42 assists and 67 points; Domi, 119 PIM.
Red Wings - Sergei Fedorov and Brett Hull, 24 goals; Fedorov, 36 assists and 60 points; Darren McCarty, 87 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 25):
Maple Leafs - Power play: 17.4 percent (49 for 282), 13th in NHL. Penalty killing: 87.9 percent (283 for 322), 2nd.
Red Wings - Power play: 22.7 percent (55 for 242), 1st. Penalty killing: 84.5 percent (240 for 284), 11th.

Maple Leafs - Belfour (30-16-3, 6 SO, 2.16 GAA); Trevor Kidd (5-6-1, 3.27).
Red Wings - Joseph (23-16-6, 3, 2.60); Legace (10-4-3, 2.11).

SEASON SERIES: Red Wings, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 16; Red Wings, 2-1. At Toronto, Kirk Maltby and Henrik Zetterberg scored, and Legace came within 10 seconds of his first shutout of the season before Domi spoiled the bid with his fifth goal of the season.

Maple Leafs - 16-11-2-1 on the road;
Red Wings - 19-6-5-2 at home.
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