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Resurgent Leafs finish season series with Rangers

by Dave Lozo /
MAPLE LEAFS (18-21-5) at RANGERS (26-18-3)


Last 10 --
Toronto 5-4-1; New York 5-4-1

Season series --
This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams this season. The Rangers are 2-0-1, but the overtime loss came at home, 4-3, on Oct. 15.

Big Story --
Has anyone seen Marian Gaborik? One of the game's best goal-scorers hasn't found the back of the net in the Rangers' past eight games. The Leafs have lost two straight, but they are 4-1-1 in their last six games.

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs --
Trailing the Calgary Flames 1-0 in the waning seconds Saturday, it looked like Toronto was finished. But Mikhail Grabovski scored with 17 seconds remaining to force overtime. The Leafs eventually lost in a shootout, but there was a feeling of accomplishment about at least earning a point.

"It's a big point for our team," captain Dion Phaneuf said. "We're not happy about not getting the two, but it showed a lot of character and showed a lot about our group the way we've been playing the last couple weeks. We've been in every hockey game and we've battled right to the end."

It also marked the return of goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who hadn't played since Dec. 16 due to injury and the strong play of rookie James Reimer.

"I felt pretty good," said Giguere, who made 32 saves. "It's been a tough battle since Christmas trying to get myself back into the game. It was just nice to be able to play a game and to compete."

Rangers --
Things were looking pretty good for the Rangers after their 1-0 victory against the League-leading Vancouver Canucks last Tuesday. They got the game-winning goal from new acquisition Wojtek Wolski and the Rangers' young defensemen stifled the high-powered Canucks.

But the Rangers followed that win with two straight losses, the latest a 3-2 setback at home against the Philadelphia Flyers. It marked the ninth straight game the Rangers have scored two goals or less and the eighth in a row Gaborik failed to score.

"Some guys just need to score a goal to gain some confidence," coach John Tortorella said. "We need production from (Gaborik). We need some of our skill guys to score a goal."

Who's Hot -- Toronto's Nikolai Kulemin has 3 goals and 6 assists in his last six games. … Wolski has paid immediate dividends with 2 goals and 1 assist in his first four games with the Rangers.

Injury Report --
Kris Versteeg (upper-body) is expected back in the Leafs lineup tonight. Fredrik Sjostrom (leg) will likely be a game-time decision. … The Rangers lack any fresh injuries, but forward Ryan Callahan (hand) is progressing in his rehab and can now hold a stick.

Stat Pack --
The Leafs have successfully killed 23 of their past 26 penalties. … Derek Stepan is second on the Rangers with 27 points but is just fifth on the team in ice time.

Puck Drop --
"He definitely doesn't go unnoticed by guys on this team. Being a fan, what meets your eye first is probably making spectacular plays or putting up points or a huge hit or something like that. But it's the little things that win you hockey games and you need those guys to do them. He's one of them." -- Leafs' defenseman Luke Schenn, talking about fellow blueliner Francois Beauchemin to The Globe and Mail

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