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Maple Leafs-Avalanche Preview @NHLdotcom
Maple Leafs-Avalanche Preview

GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (24-17-3) at Colorado Avalanche (26-17-3).

TIME: Tuesday, 9 p.m. EST.

The last time the Colorado Avalanche won eight straight games, they capped the season by hoisting the Stanley Cup.

Colorado tries to equal its longest winning streak in more than five years when it hosts the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Avalanche began the 2000-01 season with an 11-game unbeaten streak that included nine consecutive wins. That team finished with a franchise-record 118 points and beat New Jersey in seven games in the Stanley Cup finals.

Colorado has outscored its opponents 27-11 during its current win streak, and has converted 10 of 44 power-play attempts while killing off 36 of 40 penalties over than span.

Alex Tanguay scored at 4:14 of overtime as Colorado spoiled Peter Forsberg's first game against his former team with a 4-3 win over Philadelphia on Saturday.

John-Michael Liles, Brett Clark and Antti Laaksonen scored in regulation for Colorado, which last won seven straight games from Jan. 16-30, 2001, during that same Stanley Cup-winning season.

"We're playing well and we're playing with confidence, and those two things are really important," said goaltender David Aebischer, who extended his personal winning streak to six on Saturday.

Aebischer, though, is 0-2-0 with a 3.56 goals-against average in his career against the Leafs.

Toronto has lost three of four after a season-high six-game winning streak, and is without injured stars Eric Lindros, Darcy Tucker and Bryan McCabe.

Lindros is on injured reserve with a torn wrist ligament and Tucker, the team's leading goal scorer with 18, has a rib injury. McCabe, who tops Toronto with 49 points, has missed the last two games with a groin injury.

Jason Allison, Carlo Colaiacovo and Tomas Kaberle scored power-play goals to give the Leafs a 3-0 lead over Phoenix in the first period Saturday, but Toronto wound up losing 4-3 to the Coyotes.

"Mentally, we weren't very good," rookie Kyle Wellwood said. "This wasn't very good."

Toronto is beginning a four-game road trip, and plays seven of its next nine away from home.

"We need to still keep working on playing in the situation and knowing what's going on out there," coach Pat Quinn said. "It's the mental part of the game that you can't let slip. We've got to get better. We're just not good enough."

The Leafs haven't played in Colorado since a 3-2 loss on Dec. 15, 1997. The last seven meetings between the teams have been in Toronto.

STANDINGS (through Jan. 15): Maple Leafs - 51 points, 3rd place, 12 PB, Northeast Division. Avalanche - 55 points, 2nd place (tied), 2 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Tucker, 18 goals; McCabe, 34 assists and 49 points; Allison, 57 PIM. Avalanche - Marek Svatos, 26 goals; Tanguay, 34 assists and 53 points; Ian Laperriere, 70 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 15): Maple Leafs - Power play: 20.5 percent (58 for 283), 5th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.4 percent (227 for 279), 20th. Avalanche - Power play: 20.0 percent (57 for 285), 6th. Penalty killing: 85.2 percent (225 for 264), 3rd.

GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Ed Belfour (18-14-2, 3.20 GAA); Mikael Tellqvist (6-3-1, 1 SO, 2.43). Avalanche - Aebischer (17-9-0, 2, 3.09); Peter Budaj (6-5-3, 2.80).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: March 20, 2004; Maple Leafs, 5-2. At Toronto, Owen Nolan had two goals and Belfour made 32 saves for the Leafs.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 9-9-2 on the road; Avalanche - 14-6-3 at home.

Associated Press
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