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No Mario For Leafs Tuesday

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

GAME: Pittsburgh Penguins (3-4-3-0) at Toronto Maple Leafs (5-4-2-1).

TIME: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
With Mario Lemieux unlikely to play because of a hip injury, the Pittsburgh Penguins look to extend their unbeaten streak to four when they open a five-game road trip against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The superstar center was hurt in Saturday's 3-2 overtime victory over Boston. He left the game after playing 7:19 in the first period.

Lemieux, who missed 54 games with a right hip injury that required surgery two years ago, wasn't talking Monday about the strained muscle in his left hip that has bothered him for about 10 days.

Coach Eddie Olczyk also said little about the injury, which does not appear to affect Lemieux's skating nearly as much as the right hip problem did.

Lemieux had an eight-game point streak snapped Saturday with his early departure.

"Everybody's got to pick up their game even more without Mario, because he's such a significant part of our team," said Pittsburgh forward Rico Fata, who scored goals 4:48 apart in the third period to tie the game.

"When we lost him, we knew we had to fill the void, and the guys did it."

The Penguins' rally without their star gave them their second straight win and improved them to 2-0-1 in their last three. They snapped the Bruins' six-game road winning streak when rookie Ryan Malone scored at 2:10 of overtime.

"I told our guys I couldn't be happier for them or more proud of them," Olczyk said. "They stuck with it, and when it looked really dark and bleak, we seemed to find another gear."

The Penguins will need that extra gear as they head out for the five-game trip. They begin the stretch against the struggling Maple Leafs, who ended a three-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over lowly Carolina on Sunday.

Mats Sundin and Ken Klee scored in the first 4:43, and rookie Mikael Tellqvist stopped 24 shots as Toronto bounced back from a 7-1 rout at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

"When you get a bit of a trashing you have to do some re-evaluting and start asking yourself what's going on," coach Pat Quinn said. "We have some guys with some very high standards and we haven't met those standards."

Tellqvist, up from the minors because of an injury to backup Trevor Kidd, lost his shutout bid when Ron Francis scored a power-play goal with 9:33 left. Toronto was forced to hang on against a team that has just two wins in its first 11 games.

Despite his strong performance in limited duty with the Leafs, Tellqvist could find himself back in the minors when Kidd returns from a shoulder injury.

"He was a significant factor in both games he played in," Quinn said of the rookie goalie. "That's the hard part. Those decisions are in front of us and will have to be made."

If Quinn decides to give Tellqvist another start Tuesday ahead of veteran Ed Belfour, Tellqvist could oppose fellow rookie goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, the top overall pick in this year's draft, who has compiled a 1.95 goals-against average. Fleury will make his fourth consecutive start Tuesday.

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Meetings This Year
04-NOV-03Pittsburgh at Toronto07:30 PM EST
05-JAN-04Toronto at Pittsburgh07:30 PM EST
16-FEB-04Toronto at Pittsburgh07:30 PM EST
11-MAR-04Pittsburgh at Toronto07:30 PM EST
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