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GAME: Boston Bruins (31-15-13-7) at Toronto Maple Leafs (35-19-9-3).

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

With both teams fighting for first place in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs play the first of three meetings in three weeks when they face off at Air Canada Centre.

Toronto and Boston are tied for fourth in the East, but are just two points behind the Northeast Division-leading Ottawa Senators and Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia Flyers for the conference's top spot.

Following Tuesday's game, the Leafs and Bruins meet again on March 16 in Toronto and on March 25 in Boston.

Boston comes into this contest riding an impressive stretch. The Bruins moved closer to first place in the East with a 3-2 overtime win over the Flyers on Saturday, earning at least a point for the 15th time in 16 games.

Glen Murray scored 1:21 into overtime and Andrew Raycroft tied a team record for the most wins by a Boston rookie goaltender.

"We want to carry the team," Murray said of himself and linemate Joe Thornton.

With the win, Boston improved to 9-1-3-3 in its last 16 games.

"We've got a lot of confidence right now," said Raycroft, who earned his 22nd win of the season to match Marco Baron's team mark set during the 1981-82 season. "We just want to get better every day."

Toronto got goaltender Ed Belfour back from injury on Saturday, and he made 17 saves as the Leafs beat the defending Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils 3-0 to snap a season high-tying three-game losing streak.

Belfour, who missed 11 of 12 games with a sore back, recorded his sixth shutout of the season and the 71st of his career to put him in a tie with Harry Lumley for 10th on the NHL's all-time list.

"It didn't bother me during the game," Belfour said of his injury. "The next day is important. Nobody has a crystal ball to be able tell you what is going to happen the next day. I'm just going to do the best I can."

Boston won two of the first three contests with Toronto this season, and has victories in four of the last five meetings.

STANDINGS: Bruins - 82 points, 2nd place (tied), 2 PB, Northeast Division. Maple Leafs - 82 points, 2nd place (tied), 2 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Bruins - Murray, 28 goals; Thornton, 45 assists and 61 points; Doug Doull, 113 PIM. Maple Leafs - Mats Sundin, 23 goals, 38 assists and 61 points; Tie Domi, 165 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 29): Bruins - Power play: 16.2 percent (39 for 241), 14th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.7 percent (220 for 263), 20th. Maple Leafs - Power play: 19.6 percent (61 for 311), 5th. Penalty killing: 84.9 percent (269 for 317), 9th.

GOALTENDERS: Bruins - Raycroft (22-15-7, 3 SO, 1.97 GAA); Felix Potvin (9-7-6, 4, 2.64). Maple Leafs - Belfour (25-15-5, 6, 2.12); Mikael Tellqvist (5-3-2, 2.87).

SEASON SERIES: Bruins, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 17; Bruins, 5-2. At Toronto, Murray had a goal and an assist, and Mike Knuble, Andy Hilbert, Ted Donato and Thornton also scored to lead the Bruins.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bruins - 18-6-6-5 on the road; Maple Leafs - 17-10-2-2 at home.

Associated Press
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