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Free-falling Leafs hope to end slide against Flames
(SportsNetwork.com) - The reality of Toronto's eight-game losing streak is starting to set in.
The Maple Leafs will try to snap their epic slide on Tuesday night in a matchup with the Calgary Flames and breathe some life into their fading playoff chances.
Toronto has not earned a point in the standings since a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on March 13. That win had the Maple Leafs second overall in the Atlantic Division, but having lost eight straight in regulation for the first time since Oct. 19-Nov. 6, 1985 has made a second straight playoff appearance an uphill battle.
The Leafs' latest setback came on Saturday against one of the teams they are chasing in the wild card race. Toronto was unable to take advantage and lost 4-2 to the Detroit Red Wings.
Toronto is two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card spot, but has played two more games. The Blue Jackets have eight games left on their schedule and host the Colorado Avalanche tonight.
Joffrey Lupul admitted after Saturday's loss that things are finally starting to look bleak for the Leafs.
"It's tough to stay positive right now. We've got to win the rest of our games and get help now I think. This was as close to a do-or-die (game) as you could get, but obviously we're not going to throw out hope until it is mathematically set in stone," said Lupul, who scored his 22nd goal of the season.
"We pretty much had to have this game. We knew that going in. It's tough to sit around every night and hope for other teams to lose. That's asking a lot."
Cody Franson also scored and Jonathan Bernier made 24 saves as Toronto dropped the opener of a four-game homestand.
At least Toronto caught a break with a possible injury to leading scorer Phil Kessel, who blocked a shot in the third period on Saturday and had to have X- rays. However, he is expected to play tonight and that is a good thing for Toronto's offense as the winger leads the club with 36 goals, 41 assists and 77 points.
The Maple Leafs beat the Flames for just the second time in the previous seven meetings overall with a 4-2 victory in Calgary on Oct. 30. However, they have won 15 of their past 18 at home versus the Flames.
Calgary will look to deal Toronto another critical loss in the second contest of a five-game road trip. The Flames lost the opener of the swing 6-3 versus the Ottawa Senators on Sunday.
Matt Stajan, Paul Byron and Sean Monahan scored for the Flames, who had won six of their previous nine, while Karri Ramo ended with 31 saves.
Monahan scored his 20th goal of the season, lighting the lamp for the first time in 12 games. He became the first Flames rookie to reach the 20-goal mark since current Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf in 2005-06 and the first Calgary rookie forward since Jarome Iginla in 1996-97.
"I think obviously that's a relief, but at the end of the day it's a tough loss and I don't think it's a game we can lose," said Monahan.
Flames defenseman Ladislav Smid missed the game with an upper-body injury.
04/01 10:59:52 ET
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