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Reeling Thrashers set to host surging Leafs

by Brian Compton
MAPLE LEAFS (27-27-8) at THRASHERS (25-26-11)


Last 10: Toronto 6-1-3; Atlanta 1-7-2.

Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. Toronto is 2-1-0 against the Thrashers this season and most recently earned a 5-4 victory on Feb. 7 at the Air Canada Centre.

Big Story: Leafs GM Brian Burke has made headlines again this month with the trades of Kris Versteeg to Philadelphia, Francois Beauchemin to Anaheim and Tomas Kaberle to Boston, but Toronto has played awfully well as of late. The Maple Leafs have lost only once in regulation in their last 10 games and have pulled within five points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

In fact, the Leafs have played so well as of late, they actually enter Sunday's action one point ahead of their opponent, the reeling Thrashers.

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs: Toronto was denied a three-game winning streak Saturday night, but it did manage to earn another valuable point in the standings in a 6-5 shootout loss against Pittsburgh at the Air Canada Centre. Joffrey Lupul had two goals, and Colby Armstrong, Clarke MacArthur and Dion Phaneuf also scored for the Maple Leafs, who are 8-2-3 since the All-Star break.

"We knew we weren't going to win the last 20 (games)," said Lupul. "There's going to be nights when we don't execute as well as we want, but we got out of here with one point. It's not the end of the world, that's for sure."

Thrashers: Atlanta's winless streak reached five games Friday night, as the Thrashers suffered a 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers at Philips Arena. Blake Wheeler scored his first goal as a Thrasher late in the second period, but it was the only offense Atlanta could muster against Tomas Vokoun, who was sensational in a 45-save performance.

"We have to keep shooting," defenseman Zach Bogosian said. "It's frustrating that they are not going in but we can't change what we are doing as we are getting a lot of shots. They just aren't going in."

Who's Hot: MacArthur scored his team-leading 19th goal of the season Saturday night. Entering this season, his previous career-high was 17, set with Buffalo in 2008-09. Meanwhile, Phil Kessel has six goals in his last six games.

Injury Report: Toronto is likely to not have Colton Orr (head) or Jonas Gustavsson (heart) in the lineup. … Atlanta is expected to be without Patrice Cormier (upper body), Jim Slater (concussion) and Alexander Burmistrov (foot).

Stat Pack: Friday's loss dropped the Thrashers' record to 1-4-1 when they accumulate 40 shots on goal. They haven't been outshot since a Feb. 1 loss to the Islanders.

Puck Drop: "It's frustrating. We feel we are playing well but we are not getting the job done and the points we need. That is the most important thing right now." -- Thrashers goalie Chris Mason

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