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Leafs, Canucks battle tonight

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs head into Vancouver tonight after a strong performance against Edmonton on Tuesday. Inspired by a pep talk by captain Mats Sundin, the Leafs beat the Oilers 4-1 behind an impressive defensive effort and two key short-handed goals.

While Sundin has downplayed his speech - sparked by the loss to St. Louis on Saturday night - Leaf players have admitted that the talk did have an affect in the dressing room. The Leafs have to be encouraged by the fact that their special teams played a key role in the Edmonton win. Two of the four goals were short-handed, which seemed to deflate the Oilers.

Toronto continues to get strong production from the line of Sundin, Jonas Hoglund and Mikael Renberg. The Swedish trio has combined for eight goals and 11 assists in the first six games.

The Canucks started the season slow, losing their first three games, but have bounced back and are 2-0-1-0 in their last three game. Vancouver was dealt a big blow when one of its top players, right winger Todd Bertuzzi, was suspended for 10 games.

Bertuzzi was handed the suspension by the league after receiving a game misconduct for leaving the bench and starting a fight during the third period of the Canucks' 4-0 win over Colorado on Oct. 13. Bertuzzi was one of Vancouver's best offensive players last year so his absence will be significant.

Both Curtis Joseph and Canucks goaltender Dan Cloutier could face a lot of rubber tonight. Toronto and Vancouver are two of the highest scoring teams in the NHL. The Leafs have scored 21 goals, which ranks 4th overall while the Canucks are 6th overall with 19 goals.
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