February 12, 2004
GAME: Columbus Blue Jackets (16-28-8-3) at Toronto Maple Leafs (30-14-9-3).
TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
Goaltender Ed Belfour hopes to return to action when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Air Canada Centre.
Belfour, sidelined for three games with a stiff lower back, watched the Maple Leafs go 1-1-1 in his absence, including Tuesday's 4-4 tie at Tampa Bay in which backup Trevor Kidd made 25 saves.
Toronto recalled Mikael Tellqvist from the AHL to help serve as Kidd's backup during Belfour's absence, but Tellqvist was sent back to the minors Wednesday, clearing the way for Belfour's return.
Belfour ranks fifth in the league with 23 wins and is fourth in the NHL with four shutouts.
Toronto, which is locked in a tight battle with Boston and Ottawa for first place in the Northeast Division, made another roster move Wednesday, acquiring veteran defenseman Drake Berehowsky from Pittsburgh for defenseman Ric Jackman.
The 32-year-old Berehowsky, a Toronto native, had five goals and 16 assists with 50 penalty minutes in 47 games for the Penguins. He began his career with the Maple Leafs as a first-round selection in 1990, but was dealt to Pittsburgh in 1995.
The Leafs, who rallied from two goals down in the third period to salvage Tuesday's tie, are 6-2-1 over their last nine games.
The Blue Jackets returned from the All-Star break with an impressive 3-2 win over the red-hot Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday. David Vyborny scored 1:58 into overtime as Columbus ended Los Angeles' season-high seven-game unbeaten streak with its second straight overtime victory over the Kings.
Defensemen Jaroslav Spacek and Aaron Johnson scored for the Blue Jackets, who are 7-7-4 since Gerard Gallant was named interim coach Jan. 1.
-- Associated Press