Toronto Maple Leafs Face Bruins Tonight Looking for Fourth Straight Victory

Dino MoriAnalyst IDecember 18, 2008

The Toronto Maple Leafs will endeavor to climb over the .500 mark this season when they visit the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston to play the Bruins.

This season, the Maple Leafs are 12-12-6 for 30 points after beating the New Jersey Devils, 3-2, in a shootout Tuesday.

Boston, meanwhile, sit atop the Eastern conference standings with a record of 21-5-4 for 46 points. They are 11-1-1 at home, with the Maple Leafs the only team to beat them as the visiting squad. 

Toronto have won three straight, a high water mark for the team this season.

Toronto and Boston have met three times so far this year, with the Beantowners coming out ahead twice.

The six-game season series began back in Oct. in Boston, where the Leafs overcame an early two-goal deficit en route to a 4-2 win over the Bruins. Anton Stralman, now in the minors, scored the winner midway through the third period.

The game was special for Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron, who scored for the first time in almost a year. Bergeron missed most of the 2007-08 campaign recovering from a severe concussion when he was sent head first into the boards by Philadelphia defenseman Randy Jones.

The Bruins exacted revenge two weeks later at home against the Leafs, earning a 5-2 victory over their Northeast division rivals. Boston rookie forward Blake Wheeler scored his first NHL hat-trick, while Milan Lucic laid a devastating hit on the Leafs' Mike Van Ryn shattering a pane of glass.

Boston won the third head-to-head match-up versus the Leafs this time in Toronto on Nov. 17 by a score of 3-2. Former Canadiens forward Michael Ryder scored the winner for the Bruins.

Toronto will play five of their next six games on the road, beginning with tonight's affair against the Bruins. They will then travel to Pittsburgh on Friday to play the Penguins, move on to Atlanta Saturday, before heading home to for a date with the Dallas Stars on Dec. 23.

The Maple Leafs, along with the other 29 NHL clubs will enjoy a two-day Christmas break, before heading out back on the road for stops in Uniondale and Washington.

Vesa Toskala is expected to make his 10th consecutive start in goal for the Maple Leafs. He'll likely be opposed in net by Tim Thomas, who is enjoying a wonderful year between the pipes for the Bruins. 

Thomas ranks second in the NHL in both goals against average (1.96) and save percentage (9.38). He and Toskala are both tied for seventh with Detroit's Chris Osgood in league wins with 12.