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Leafs Hope To Rebound In Minny

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (15-6-5-3) at Minnesota Wild (10-13-5-0).

TIME: Thursday, 8 p.m. EST.

The Toronto Maple Leafs look to extend their point streak to 10 straight games when they become the last NHL team to visit the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center.

Toronto is 3-0 all-time against Minnesota, holding it to three goals in the meetings which all took place at the Air Canada Centre. The Leafs are the only team that Minnesota has yet to beat since joining the NHL for the 2000-01 season.

Minnesota may have a tough time trying to win its first game against Toronto.

The Leafs had their eight-game winning streak come to an end on Tuesday, but they were able to pick up a point with a 3-2 loss in overtime to the St. Louis Blues.

Toronto has earned at least one point in nine straight games, and in 12 of its last 13 contests to move into first place in the Northeast Division.

The Blues took a 2-0 lead in the second period, but the Leafs came back to tie it when Joe Nieuwendyk scored a short-handed goal with 17 seconds in regulation.

Toronto's Tom Fitzgerald got a four-minute penalty for high-sticking with 3:01 left in regulation, enabling St. Louis to carry its power play into overtime. The Blues scored 30 seconds into the extra period to end the Leafs' winning streak.

"The worst part was that I was so thankful that we clawed back and got the point, but then to look up and see that I had a minute left in the box, it's disheartening to say the least," Fitzgerald said.

Minnesota won for just the third time in its last 10 games, beating the Calgary Flames 2-1 on Tuesday behind Manny Fernandez's 31 saves and Andrei Zyuzin's goal and assist.

The Wild entered the game having scored only one goal in each of their past six games.

"It's good to get the two points," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "But there were a lot of plays that have not been that sharp. We have to work on that. The first five or six minutes were not that good. We settled down and played a lot better. Manny kept us in the game."

STANDINGS: Maple Leafs - 38 points, 1st place, Northeast Division. Wild - 25 points, 4th place (tied), 11 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Mats Sundin, 11 goals, 18 assists and 29 points; Owen Nolan, 71 PIM. Wild - Alexandre Daigle, 8 goals; Andrew Brunette and Jim Dowd, 10 assists; Brunette, 16 points; Matt Johnson, 61 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 9): Maple Leafs - Power play: 16.4 percent (24 for 146), 12th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.6 percent (122 for 146), 16th (tied). Wild - Power play: 15.0 percent (18 for 120), 19th (tied). Penalty killing: 85.8 percent (91 for 106), 6th.

GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Ed Belfour (12-9-3, 2 SO, 2.45 GAA); Trevor Kidd (1-0-0, 2.00). Wild - Fernandez (5-6-2, 1, 2.34); Dwayne Roloson (5-7-3, 2, 1.90).

2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: April 3; Maple Leafs, 2-1. At Toronto, Aki Berg snapped a 1-1 tie when he scored on a slap shot from the faceoff circle with 3:53 remaining in regulation as the Leafs won their fourth straight.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 9-4-4-1 on the road; Wild - 5-7-3-0 at home.

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