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Gameday Preview

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
GAME: Atlanta Thrashers (8-19-1-4) at Toronto Maple Leafs (16-14-4-0).

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

The Toronto Maple Leafs look to extend their nine-game home unbeaten streak as they host the Atlanta Thrashers at the Air Canada Centre.

Tomas Kaberle and Mats Sundin each scored power-play goals in the final 10 minutes of regulation Saturday, helping the Leafs to a 3-3 tie with the San Jose Sharks.

"It's nice to get a point," Sundin said. "We looked a little sluggish, but as the game went on we played better."

However, the tie did ruin Toronto's chances of tying a club record with nine straight home wins. The last time the Maple Leafs won nine in a row at home was Nov. 11-Dec. 26, 1953.

Ed Belfour, whose 1.98 goals-against average ranked third in the league heading into Sunday's games, made 26 saves against the Sharks. Belfour is undefeated in nine of his last 11 games, and has not given up three goals since Dec. 3.

Right wing Mikael Renberg, tied for third on the team with 23 points, sat out his second straight game Saturday with an ankle injury. Renberg was hurt in Wednesday's 2-2 tie with the Florida Panthers, and is questionable for Monday.

The struggling Thrashers come in off Friday's 3-2 overtime loss to Carolina.

Atlanta, which has won just once in its last nine games, gave up two goals in the final 6:13 of regulation, and the game-winner with 1:04 left in overtime.

"We played terrific hockey all game, and that's the result we get. I just can't explain it," Atlanta coach Curt Fraser lamented.

Defenseman Mike Weaver was equally frustrated.

"It's happened time and time again," he said. "We can't let this happen anymore. It's killing this hockey team."

Thrashers - 21 points, 5th place, 17 PB, Southeast Division.
Maple Leafs - 36 points, 4th place, 8 PB, Northeast Division.

Thrashers - Ilya Kovalchuk, 18 goals; Dany Heatley, 23 assists and 31 points; Jeff Odgers, 76 PIM.
Maple Leafs - Sundin, 17 goals; Alexander Mogilny, 24 assists and 37 points; Tie Domi, 58 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 21):
Thrashers - Power play: 17.4 percent (26 for 149), 12th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.6 percent (127 for 152), 14th.
Maple Leafs - Power play: 19.8 percent (33 for 167), 6th. Penalty killing: 87.2 percent (157 for 180), 3rd.

Thrashers - Byron Dafoe (2-7-0, 0 SO, 3.95 GAA); Pasi Nurminen (6-7-1, 1, 3.06).
Maple Leafs - Ed Belfour (15-9-3, 5, 1.98); Trevor Kidd (1-5-1, 0, 3.85).

SEASON SERIES: Thrashers, 1-0-1.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 16; Thrashers, 1-0. At Atlanta, Nurminen stopped 30 shots to record his first career shutout. Brad Tapper, called up from the AHL to fill in for the injured Heatley, scored Atlanta's lone goal.

Thrashers - 2-11-1-2 on the road;
Maple Leafs - 12-7-2-0 at home.
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