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Leafs Face Devil of a Test

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

GAME: New Jersey Devils (33-18-11-1) at Toronto Maple Leafs (34-19-9-3).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are hoping Ed Belfour can help them snap one of their worst slides of the season as they host the New Jersey Devils.

Belfour has missed 11 of Toronto's last 12 games with a back injury, including Thursday's 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Maple Leafs have dropped a season-high three straight games in regulation.

Toronto has clearly missed its star goalie, who had hoped to return against the Lightning. The Leafs have allowed an average of 3.8 goals in the 11 games he has missed after allowing just 2.3 in 53 games before his injury.

Toronto beat Columbus 4-1 on Feb. 12 in the only game Belfour played this month. However, Belfour suffered a relapse after that win and said he wants to make sure to avoid another one this time around.

"The last four or five days have felt better every day ... (and) hopefully Saturday is the day," he told the Toronto Star.

Toronto coach Pat Quinn was more worried about the players that did play on Thursday than he was about Belfour.

"We need to get our heads back in the game and pay attention to the defensive part of this game, or we're just going to screw up everything we've worked for all year long," he said.

"We've got a lot of guys not doing very good jobs."

Alexander Mogilny, Mats Sundin and Joe Nieuwendyk scored against the Lightning, and rookie goalie Mikael Tellqvist made 22 saves.

The Devils are coming off Friday's 3-2 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers, snapping a three-game winning streak. Brian Gionta and Patrik Elias scored for New Jersey, which had scored 18 goals during its winning streak.

Toronto is tied with Boston for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, with the Devils just two points back.

-- Associated Press

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