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Bruins host Maple Leafs in Northeast clash

by Adam Kimelman
MAPLE LEAFS (5-2-1) at BRUINS (4-2-0)
Season series --
This is the first of six meetings between the teams this season. The Bruins took four of the six games last season, capped by a 2-1 overtime victory at Air Canada Centre -- the only road win by a team in the season series.

Big story --
Will the Leafs' struggling offense be able to penetrate the Bruins' stingy defense? The Leafs' three goals Tuesday was the first time they've scored more than two in their last three games. The Bruins have allowed just 11 goals, fewest in the League.

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs --
Coach Ron Wilson has been imploring his team to get to the net more, but even he thought what Colton Orr did Tuesday was a bit much.

Orr crashed not only the net, but Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen. With Clemmensen down, Tim Brent had a nearly empty net to score into. The puck happened to clip Orr's skate, and he was credited with the winning goal in what became a 3-1 Leafs victory.

"The goalie stepped way out and then Colton was just trying to get to the front, but he kind of ran over him," Wilson said.

In his defense, Orr said he wasn't trying to make contact with Clemmensen, that the pair became tangled as Orr tied to skate out from behind the net and set a screen.

Bruins -- Johnny Boychuk is a big part of the Boston defense, but the rest of the blueliners aren't worried about how they'll get along without him for the next month while he recovers from a broken left arm.

Thanks to outstanding play by goalie Tim Thomas, the Bruins have allowed the fewest goals in the League, and that's something defenseman and team captain Zdeno Chara doesn't expect to change.

"Unfortunately, it happened to (Boychuk) and you know, we have the extra defenseman in here, so I'm sure we're going to dress all six D we have right now," Chara told reporters.

Boychuk had 3 points and a plus-3 rating in six games prior to his injury. He was third on the team in ice time at 20:22 per game and was third among Bruins defensemen with 11 hits.

Who's hot -- Kessel has goals in two straight games and a team-best 7 goals for the season. … Bruins right wing Nathan Horton has goals in back-to-back games. He has 5 goals in six games; last season, it took him 18 games before he scored his fifth goal.

Injury report -- Maple Leafs center Colby Armstrong out for 4-6 weeks and will require finger surgery after being injured early in Tuesday's win against the Panthers. … Boychuk joins Marco Sturm (knee), Trent Whitfield (Achilles) and Marc Savard (post-concussion symptoms) on the injured list. Center David Krejci is expected to play after having his wisdom teeth pulled Monday.

Stat pack -- In his first four games this season, Thomas is 4-0-0 with a 0.75 goals-against average. In his first four games last season, he was 2-2-0 with a 3.02 GAA.

Puck prop -- Sturm hasn't played since getting injured during last spring's playoffs, but he reached a milestone in his recovery Tuesday, when he skated for the first time since surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his right knee, suffered in Game 1 of the conference semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers. He skated for about 30 minutes prior to the team practicing Tuesday.

"It's good, better than I expected, so I'll skate almost every day now and we'll see," Sturm told reporters. "The knee is going to let me know how things are going, so right now, it's just getting used to the ice again and … getting stronger again.

"I'm not that strong yet, so there is still time to go, but I was really happy about being back on the ice."

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