Now 0-4 in games after out-scoring the opposition by 4 or more goals (following a 4-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night), the Maple Leafs host the Carolina Hurricanes tonight in a game that could prove pivotal to the Eastern Conference playoff picture.(7:30PM ET
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Alexander Steen, the Leaf with the hottest hand at the time, added in another goal to his toal in the loss, along with defencemen Carlo Colaiacovo and Pavel Kubina. Kubina's was his first as a Leaf.
Unfortunately for Toronto, a late 3rd period goal scored by the Sabres in the 3rd left the Leafs trying to climb back once more, and almost doing so until John Pohl missed the net with half a minute to go.
Goaltender Andrew Raycroft drew the ire of Leaf fans at the ACC after Kotalik's game-winner passed him by and into the net. However, head Coach Paul Maurice threw support behind the netminder who he thinks has done well so far into the season.
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Paul Maurice said:
''The games that we've won, he's been a big part of it. We will put pressure on our goaltender more right now to be good.
''I really think in the last two weeks he has been very good.''
The Leafs now sit just 1 Point ahead of the Boston Bruins (who they beat in back-to-back games before the loss) for the last playoff spot in the East, and are 4 points behind the Hurricanes with 44 Points after 43 games. (19-18-5)
The Maple Leafs will also still be without the players they had missing from the last week with, Darcy Tucker, Kyle Wellwood, Alexei Ponikarovsky, and Michael Peca all still continuing to recover from their injuries.
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Tucker's 19 goals continue to lead the team, while Mats Sundin has 39 Points in 36 games (18G, 21A), again leading the team in Points for another season.
Andrew Raycroft is 17-13-4 after 34 games played, with a criticised 3.02 Goals Against Average and an .896 Save Percentage.
The Leafs are 4th in the Northwest Division.
Carolina is coming off a 6-1 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday night, and are currently trailing the Atlanta Thrashers by 8 Points for the Southeast Division lead. The Canes have a 22-18-4 record for 48 Points after 44 games played.
The Hurricanes could possibly have defenceman Dennis Seidenberg in the line-up for Tuesday's game after acquiring him in a trade for forward Kevyn Adams last night. The move made due to an injury to defenceman Bret Hedican, and the team also still being without defencemen Frantisek Kaberle and Tim Gleason.
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Justin Williams leads the Canes' in goals with 20 in 44 games, and Ray Whitney and Captain Rod Brind'Amour lead the team in points with 46. (Brind'Amour - 40GP, 13G, 33A. Whitney - 44GP, 16G, 30A)
Reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Cam Ward, has a 19-12-3 record after 34 games this season, and 2.78 Goals against average and .901 Save Percentage for the Hurricanes who are 1-2 to start off 2007.
The Leafs won the only game played between the two clubs earlier in the year by a score of 4-3.