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Leafs face tough task against B's

by Brian Compton
MAPLE LEAFS (35-32-10) at BRUINS (43-23-10)


Last 10: Toronto 6-4-0; Boston 5-3-2

Season series: This is the sixth and final meeting between the Original Six teams. The Maple Leafs have won three of the first five showdowns, including a 5-2 decision at the Air Canada Centre on March 19.

Big story: Boston has returned to its winning ways as of late, thanks to solid defense and superb goaltending. The Bruins enter Thursday's action with victories in four of their last five games, allowing only three goals during that span.

While they've already clinched a playoff spot, the Bruins are still gunning for the highest seed possible. They are three points behind No. 2 Washington with six games remaining.

"It doesn't matter that you clinch, I mean you still have to play desperate hockey. And especially the teams we are facing are playing for their playoff spots, playoff positions," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "We want to get ready for the playoffs, and improve our game."

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs: Toronto won for the fourth time in five games when it earned a 4-3 victory against Buffalo on Tuesday night. But the Maple Leafs received little help on Wednesday, as Carolina beat Montreal 6-2 in Raleigh, while the Sabres blanked the Rangers at HSBC Arena. The Leafs enter Thursday's action seven points out of eighth place with just five games to go.

"We're going to try and win all of our games and see what happens," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "If we don't get in, we don't get in. But we'll have given it our best shot."

Bruins: Boston is looking to make it three in a row on Thursday night, as the Bruins are coming off an impressive 3-0 win against the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden on Tuesday. Chara and Johnny Boychuk scored 2:20 apart in the second period before Nathan Horton made it 3-0 in the third.

"This was a good challenge for us," said Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, who made 32 saves for his ninth shutout of the season. "Chicago is a good team. I know they're battling for a playoff spot in that Western Conference, but that's a good thing because you know they're going to bring their 'A' game because those points mean a lot to them. So, it was a big test and we responded very well. They're a very fast team and we had our legs going right from the beginning of the game and were able to match them stride for stride."

Who's hot: Leafs rookie goalie James Reimer has won five of his last six starts, while Thomas has shutouts in two of his last three appearances to lower his goals-against average to 1.96.

Injury report: Toronto will be without forwards Colton Orr (upper body) and Colby Armstrong (broken foot). … Boston is missing Marc Savard (concussion) and Shane Hnidy (shoulder). Also, forward Shawn Thornton is questionable after receiving 40 stitches above his right eye after getting hit by the skate of Chicago forward Fernando Pisani on Tuesday.

Stat pack: Toronto has scored at least 4 goals in three of its last five games. … Bruins forward Mark Recchi had an assist Tuesday night to give him 1,532 points -- one more than Hall of Fame defenseman Paul Coffey.

Puck drop: "I'm just focusing on each game-to-game, and even during the game just trying to play the same way for the whole 60 minutes no matter what the situation," Thomas said. "We're pretty good about not thinking about that kind of stuff lately. I'm in one of those good places and now the challenge is to keep it."

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