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Leafs still looking to climb

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- For the past two weeks, the primary focus of the Toronto Maple Leafs has been nailing down home-ice advantage. But they still have an outside chance to finish first overall in the Eastern Conference.

The Maple Leafs try to keep those hopes alive Friday when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins, whose season cannot end soon enough.

Mats Sundin is having his best year as a Leaf.
Toronto will clinch at least the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference by gaining just one more point and can reach 100 points for only the second time in franchise history by winning its final two games. The Maple Leafs finished with exactly 100 points two seasons ago.

The New York Islanders are the only team that can catch Toronto for fourth but they would need to win both of their remaining games while the Leafs would need to lose each of theirs in regulation time.

The Maple Leafs are nearly assured of opening at home in the first round of the playoffs, they still have something to play for as they enter the final weekend of the regular season three points behind Boston in the Northeast Division.

The Bruins failed to wrap up the top seed in the East by losing at Ottawa, 4-0, on Wednesday. Should Boston also lose its regular season finale to Pittsburgh on Saturday, the Maple Leafs can finish first overall in the conference by beating the Penguins and Ottawa on Saturday.

In its last outing, Toronto broke up a close game against the Rangers on Wednesday by scoring four unanswered goals in the third period. Captain Mats Sundin reached the 40-goal plateau for the third time in his career. He is second in the NHL in goals behind Calgary's Jarome Iginla, who has 51.

Pittsburgh rallied from a two-goal deficit Wednesday to earn a 4-4 tie with the Buffalo Sabres, but the Penguins are winless in their last eight games (0-6-1-1).

Pittsburgh was unable to overcome numerous injuries and will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1989.

The Penguins are making their final home appearance of the season. They have a 16-19-4-1 mark at Mellon Arena, their worst home record since going 17-20-3 during the 1984-85 season.

Pittsburgh has a 2-1 edge in the season series with Toronto.
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