After struggling for much of the season, Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Darcy Tucker appears to have regained his scoring touch.
Tucker looks to build off his recent surge on Tuesday night when the Maple Leafs continue their five-game homestand against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Tucker posted career-high totals with 28 goals and 61 points for Toronto (24-27-9) in 2005-06, but a variety of injuries since then has limited his offensive production. In his last five games, though, he's tallied six goals and one assist.
On Saturday, Tucker scored his second goal of the game 3:39 into overtime to give the Maple Leafs a 4-3 victory over Boston.
"I can't think back to a longer period of time when I struggled to produce," said Tucker, who has 12 goals and 21 points in 52 games this season. "That was tough to go through. ... It's great to score goals and you want to win hockey games and do it together as a group."
Toronto starts play with 57 points, good for 14th in the Eastern Conference but just seven points behind Boston and Buffalo for the eighth and final playoff postseason spot. The Maple Leafs will close out their homestand against the Sabres on Thursday and Atlanta on Saturday.
"You never know if we can get on a little bit of a roll here," Toronto captain Mats Sundin told the Maple Leafs' official Web site. "We're going to play a lot of teams that are around us in the standings the next little while."
|Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Darcy Tucker, center, has six goals in his last five games. (AP Photo/ Aaron Harris,The Canadian Press)
Sundin, who leads the Maple Leafs with 24 goals and 60 points this season, has points in each of five meetings with the Blue Jackets, totaling one goal and five assists.
Toronto has never lost to Columbus in three home games all-time, recording two wins and a tie. This will be the first meeting between the teams since Oct. 20, 2006, when the Blue Jackets posted a 4-2 victory at home.
Toronto's Vesa Toskala - who made 24 saves against Boston - has had shutouts in two of his last three starts against the Blue Jackets (27-25-9), both coming with San Jose. Overall, he's 4-2-0 with a 1.99 goals-against average in six career games against them.
The Blue Jackets are trying to reach the postseason for the first time in franchise history. Heading into this game, however, they're with St. Louis tied for 11th place in the Western Conference, three points behind Vancouver, Calgary and Phoenix - all tied for seventh.
Columbus has lost four of its last five games, and has gone 4-7-3 since a four-game winning streak from Jan. 11-17. After opening their five-game road trip with a lopsided win over NHL-leading Detroit on Friday, the Blue Jackets fell 5-1 to the Blues on Sunday.
"I thought we were outcompeted right from the start," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I thought (the Blues) were stronger on the puck, stronger on the 1-on-1s. They were better everywhere."
Rick Nash scored his 31st goal of the season, and fourth short-handed, both team-highs. The native of nearby Brampton, Ontario has three goals and three assists during a four-game points streak, but has just one goal in three career meetings against the Maple Leafs.