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GAME: Atlanta Thrashers (32-35-8-4) at Toronto Maple Leafs (42-24-10-3).

TIME: Monday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

If the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to catch the Boston Bruins in the Northeast Division, they may have to do it without forward Owen Nolan.

The Maple Leafs will be without Nolan as they continue to their playoff push against the Atlanta Thrashers on Monday.

Nolan had to be helped off the ice Saturday after injuring his right leg in Toronto's 2-2 tie against the Ottawa Senators. He was injured when he checked Senators center Bryan Smolinski late in the second period.

"He hurt his knee," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. "He was in a lot of pain and there was some swelling. The team doctors are going to wait for it to go down and take a look at him (Sunday)."

Nolan, who has 19 goals and 29 assists this season, collapsed to the ice after his leg buckled during the hit. He threw off his gloves and appeared to be in severe pain.

"Any time you lose a team player it hurts, especially a guy of Owen Nolan's talent and ability," said teammate Ron Francis. "Hopefully, it's not too serious."

The Leafs are missing forwards Darcy Tucker (abdominal strain), Mikael Renberg (stomach muscle) and Wade Belak (suspended until the third game of the playoffs), and defenseman Ken Klee (shoulder).

Toronto trails Boston by two points in the division with three games to play.

The Maple Leafs have had a completely healthy roster for only one game this season.

"We're prepared for it," Toronto defenseman Bryan McCabe said. "It's happened in the past and we'll deal with it as it comes."

The Thrashers aren't going to make the playoffs, but the young franchise is 3-1-1 over its last five games.

Backup goalie Kari Lehtonen stopped 30 shots to earn his first NHL shutout, and Atlanta set a franchise record for wins and points in a season with a 3-0 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday.

Dany Heatley scored twice and Patrik Stefan added a goal for the Thrashers, who earned their 32nd victory and 76th point.

"The goal of this franchise is to get better every year," Heatley said. "I think we got better last year, and I think we took another step this year. That's a positive sign. We want to keep that going next year."

STANDINGS (through March 27): Thrashers - 76 points, 2nd place, 27 PB, Southeast Division. Maple Leafs - 97 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Thrashers - Ilya Kovalchuk, 39 goals, 46 assists and 85 points; Francis Lessard, 177 PIM. Maple Leafs - Mats Sundin, 30 goals, 42 assists and 72 points; Tie Domi, 208 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 27): Thrashers - Power play: 14.9 percent (59 for 395), 22nd (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.5 percent (324 for 381), 5th. Maple Leafs - Power play: 20.1 percent (72 for 359), 5th. Penalty killing: 83.2 percent (311 for 374), 21st.

GOALTENDERS: Thrashers - Pasi Nurminen (25-28-7, 3 SO, 2.77 GAA); Lehtonen (3-0-0, 1, 1.33). Maple Leafs - Ed Belfour (31-19-6, 8, 2.21); Trevor Kidd (6-5-2, 1, 3.26).

SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 30; Maple Leafs, 4-1. At Atlanta, Kidd made 25 saves to lead Toronto over the Thrashers. Alexei Ponikarovsky and Gary Roberts scored less than three minutes apart late in the second period to put Maple Leafs up 3-1.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Thrashers - 14-19-4-2 on the road; Maple Leafs - 21-14-3-2 at home.

Associated Press
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