BOSTON (AP) _ Ed Belfour came to the right place for another shutout.
Boston was blanked for a team-record eighth time at home, and Belfour posted
his eighth shutout of the season, leading the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-0
victory Thursday night.
``I don't have an explanation for it,'' Boston coach Mike Sullivan said.
``We generate as many scoring chances at home as we do on the road.''
Toronto got goals from Joe Nieuwendyk and Ron Francis _ his first since
being obtained from Carolina on March 9 _ in the first nine minutes of the
second period and an empty-net goal from Nik Antropov with 1:43 left in the
Belfour made sure that was enough.
It's not as if he needs a road-ice advantage in stopping shots. His 73
career shutouts rank 10th in NHL history.
``I've played with him a long time and been through a few wars with him,''
said Nieuwendyk, Belfour's former teammate with Dallas. ``He will come through
when it counts.''
It did Thursday when Toronto cut Boston's lead in the Northeast Division to
one point, 97-96. The Bruins have five regular-season games left, while the
Maple Leafs have four.
Belfour made 33 saves, the same amount he had in his last game, a 7-2 loss
Tuesday night to Tampa Bay.
``A lot of teams might be affected by a 7-2 loss, but we responded,''
Belfour faced few difficult shots by Boston, which was hurt by four
penalties in the first period.
``We wanted to keep (the puck) near the net as much as possible but they
collapsed really well,'' Boston's Joe Thornton said of Toronto's skaters.
``Eddie only got tested about five or six times.''
Francis, 41; Belfour, 38; and Nieuwendyk, 37; were the Maple Leafs' stars.
``Our veteran players shored up their game,'' Toronto coach Pat Quinn said.
``We were disciplined and did the simple things we hadn't been doing
The Maple Leafs came back from a 2-1 loss to Boston nine days earlier and
are 4-2 in their last six games. The Bruins lost for just the second time in 10
games (7-2-1) and suffered their 10th shutout of the season. The previous team
record for home shutouts was six in 1951-52.
Nieuwendyk scored his fifth goal in nine games and 19th of the season from
just outside the crease on a rebound after goalie Andrew Raycroft stopped a
shot by Antropov.
Francis connected at 8:40 on a soft 15-footer that fooled defenseman Sergei
Gonchar and Raycroft, who were expecting a harder blast.
``He missed it, a changeup, a Tim Wakefield knuckleball,'' Raycroft said.
It was Francis' 11th goal of the season and his 137th point in 130 games
against the Bruins.
``It wasn't a pretty goal and I don't know if it even hit the back of the
net,'' Francis said.