Eastern battles must-see TV

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:12 AM ET

RALEIGH -- Every time Brendan Bell changed the channel on the Maple Leafs' dressing-room TV last night, the Eastern Conference playoff race was in a state of flux.

From Tampa Bay winning a shootout to stay two points ahead to the New York Islanders losing in OT, it was riveting viewing for Toronto players, clad only in towels and eating pizza after their big win over Carolina.

"We were in a position last year where we were relying on other teams to lose," centre Matt Stajan said. "That didn't work for us. Now it's going to be a grind."

The Leafs will have no rest before playing the Rangers tonight in New York.

"We've got to flush this game and get ready for a different team," goalie Andrew Raycroft said.

Defenceman Bryan McCabe hopes the club's four wins in the past five games is the modest streak the Leafs have been waiting for to make a playoff case with 31 games to go.

"We've got to start something big, not this win two and lose one stuff," he said. "We seem ready."

Defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo hopes the Leafs won't skip a beat tonight.

"New York will want to come out and feed off what happened in our building last time (a 9-2 loss). But we're already focused on tomorrow."


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