The Toronto Maple Leafs close the season with two key games as they try to make the playoffs, but before that, they'll have to avoid slipping up when they host the lowly Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
The Maple Leafs are currently ninth in the Eastern Conference, one point behind Montreal for the final playoff berth. After playing league-worst Philadelphia, Toronto visits the New York Islanders - 11th in the East with 84 points - before ending the regular season at home against the Canadiens on Saturday.
The Maple Leafs (38-30-11) are trying to get back into the postseason after missing out in 2005-06 for the first time in seven seasons. Playing the Flyers, who have a league-low 53 points, may help Toronto recover from a damaging 7-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday.
"We didn't play well. You have to give them credit," Leafs forward Darcy Tucker said of the Rangers. "They worked hard and did what they had to do to win the game. We can't dwell on it.
"We have a lot of character in our dressing room. We found ways throughout the year to do it, and we just have to find a way to win."
Sunday's game was tied at 2-2 after the first period, but the Rangers blew it open with three goals in the second period. Toronto, which had earned points in four straight games (3-0-1), was playing its third game in four days, and its two previous contests had both gone to overtime.
"It is tough when you are playing great and you don't get the breaks," Toronto coach Paul Maurice told the Rangers' official Web site. "We didn't have any gas. In the second period when they took the lead we couldn't bring it back in. We looked tired. We are going to take the day off tomorrow. That will be enough for us to get our legs back and get back to the way we were playing."
Toronto has been unbeatable at home lately, winning seven straight at the Air Canada Centre for its longest home winning streak since an eight-game run in 2002-03.
Philadelphia (21-46-11), which will finish with the lowest point total in the NHL this season, needs six points in its final four games to avoid finishing with the lowest total in franchise history.
The Flyers had 58 points in 1969-70, the team's third year of existence.
Philadelphia has lost eight of its past 10 games, including a 6-4 loss to the Rangers on Friday. The Flyers allowed three goals in each of the first two periods, falling behind 6-3 entering the final period.
"The Rangers are an opportunistic team that capitalizes on their opportunities when they get them," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "We had some good flurries early and then we didn't and they did."
This is the final road game of the season for the Flyers, who have lost six straight away from home, getting outscored 22-8 in those contests. Philadelphia finishes with a three-game homestand.
Toronto has won all three meetings with Philadelphia this season, outscoring the Flyers 13-5. The Maple Leafs have won five straight and seven of the past eight between the teams.