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Rangers' season on the line vs. Leafs

by Brian Compton

MAPLE LEAFS (29-37-14) at RANGERS (36-33-10)

Last 10 -- Toronto 5-3-2; New York 5-4-1.

Season series -- This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. The Rangers are 2-0-1, but dropped a 3-2 overtime decision at the Air Canada Centre on March 27 after blowing a 2-0 lead. Nikolai Kulemin scored the game-winner.

Big story -- No need to sugarcoat it here -- if the Rangers come up short on Wednesday night, their season is likely over. With Tuesday's 5-2 loss at Buffalo, the Blueshirts remained three points behind the Boston Bruins for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. New York closes out its season with a home-and-home series against the Philadelphia Flyers, who moved four points ahead of the Rangers on Tuesday with a 2-0 win against the Leafs.

"This is our season," center Brandon Dubinsky said. "Until all eight teams are locked, we're going to continue to fight."

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs -- You'd have to believe Toronto is pushing hard for a strong finish, considering GM Brian Burke traded his first-round draft pick to the Bruins in the deal that brought Phil Kessel to Toronto. The Leafs have earned points in seven of their last 10 games, although they came up empty on Tuesday against Philadelphia. Toronto went 0-for-6 on the power play and hasn't scored in its last 30 chances.

"Our power play has been god awful a good part of the season," coach Ron Wilson said. "We've got to find people who are going to do some of the grunt work like having Colton Orr on the last power play. It was the only power play where we had sustained pressure because he won some battles and retrieved some pucks."

Rangers -- In desperate need of points to remain in the playoff race, the Blueshirts instead were pounded by the Sabres on Tuesday night in a game that saw Henrik Lundqvist replaced by Alex Auld. Lundqvist had only allowed 10 goals in his previous six games, which included a pair of shutouts.

"We didn't play well enough to win," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "We have another game to play tomorrow and we need to be better from our goaltending on out."

Who's hot -- Leafs goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 21 of 22 shots on Tuesday and could hardly be blamed for the loss to the Flyers. Giguere has allowed only three goals in his last two appearances. … Rangers forward Brandon Prust, known more for his physical play, has scored in each of his last three games.

Injury report -- Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek (shoulder) and Mike Van Ryn (knee) are done for the season. … Rangers forwards Sean Avery (knee) and Brian Boyle (foot) are questionable. Both were unavailable against the Sabres, though forward Ryan Callahan (leg) returned.

Stat pack -- Tuesday's defeat marked the first time in seven games that the Rangers lost in regulation. They were 5-0-1 going into Buffalo.

Puck drop -- "It's not about being sad or disappointed or whatever … we need to get ready to play another game tomorrow night." -- Rangers coach John Tortorella after Tuesday's 5-2 loss at Buffalo

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