Now with their winning streak reaching 5 games, including 4 straight on the road, the Maple Leafs travel to Tennesse to face Barry Trotz's Nashville Predators Thursday night, one of the top teams in the NHL (8:00PM).
Toronto played to yet another low scoring game, winning 2-1 over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. The wins piling up, the team continues to be 1 point out of the top 8 in the East, with the teams ahead of them still playing for their playoff lives and keeping Toronto on the outside looking in, this despite the team winning 8 of their last 10 games. The Leafs are also 3 points behind their Divisional rival Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens, the latter lsoing 6 of their last 10 games.
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The superb play of Leaf Goaltender Andrew Raycroft, who earned the 1st of the NHL's 3 Stars of the Week for last week, was highlited by what could be considered one of the saves of the year. Raycroft dove accross an empty net to rob Bill Guerin of the tying goal against Toronto, preserving the victory for the Maple Leafs.
Related Topic: http://www.hockeyforum.com/nhl-forum/8047-nhls-three-stars-week-ending-february.htmlJeff O'Neill said:''Andrew was basically the difference in the game.''
Not returning to the line-up tonight is Darcy Tucker who is currently sporting a cast on his broken foot. The Winger has been out since Boxing Day, and an attempt at an early return at the beginning of the January may have done more harm than good.
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Tonight's game will mark the last of a 5-game road trip for Toronto, the team already collecting all of a possible 8 points.
Toronto is 27-21-6 after 54 Games for 60 Points, still keeping them 4th in the Northeast and now 18 Points behind the Division and Conference leading Buffalo Sabres, who defeated the Senators last night.
Andrew Raycroft, stopped 19 of 20 shots and was the 1st Star in the win. He is now 25-16-4 after 45 games and has a 2.87 Goals Against Average and .900 Save Percentage for the Leafs, ready to be tested by the Nashville offence.
Mats Sundin leads the team with 48 in 47 Games played (21G, 27A).
As many teams the Leafs are running into at this time of year, the Predators have for the most part been hot as of late. However, the team has only won 1 of their last 4 after winning 5 of 6. Their lastest game being a 4-1 loss to the energetic Pittsburgh Penguins.
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Nashville is currently 1st in the Western Conference, and 2nd in the NHL overall going into Thursday night, 1 point back of Buffalo.
The club has a 35-15-3 record for 77 points, and leads the Central Division, just 1 Point up on the surging Detroit Red Wings (5 straight wins).
The Predators have gotten solid goaltending from both their staring Goaltender Tomas Vokoun, and back-up Chris Mason.
In 24 Games played, Vokoun is 16-6-1 and has a 2.43 Goals Against Average and solid .920 Save Percentage for the Preds.
Mason, who filled in for Vokoun who went down with an injury earlier in the season, is 21-9-2, and has a 2.34 Goals Against Average and even better .927 Save Percentage in 33 Games played. His 21 wins lead the team. It's not guaranteed who will start in goal tonight, but it is likely to be Vokoun, who seems to be back in his groove once more.
On offence, Paul Kariya leads the team in points with 58 in 55 Games played (17G, 41A), followed by Steve Sullivan who is tied for the team lead in Goals with Jason Arnott, and has 55 Point in 50 games (20G, 35A)
This is the only meeting of the Season bewteen the two clubs.