January 20, 2004
TORONTO (AP) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs thought about using visors after losing another player to an eye injury.
Toronto's Darcy Tucker didn't return after New York's Jason Blake high-sticked him in the left eye near the end of the second period. Ed Belfour made 25 saves for his fifth shutout of the season as the Maple Leafs beat the Islanders 2-0 Tuesday night.
"Darcy got hit in the eye, right on that soft fleshy part above the cheekbone. They've taken him for further examination. There is reason to believe there is a problem there," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said.
The Maple Leafs are already without forward Owen Nolan, who missed his eighth straight game after being high-sticked in the left eye Jan. 3. He expects to return next Tuesday.
"It really makes you think. Maybe it's time to put a shield on," said Tom Fitzgerald, who doesn't use a visor. "It's happened to Owen Nolan and Darcy in the last three weeks. Maybe it's time."
|This one was a tight checking affair. |
(Graig Abel Photography)
The eye injuries bring bad memories back to the Leafs who were around when Bryan Berard was severely injured in March 2000. Berard, now with Chicago, missed the rest of that season and all of the 2000-01 campaign after being hit in the eye by the stick of Ottawa's Marian Hossa.
"It is scary," said Toronto's Mikael Renberg, who wears a visor. "In Europe, a lot of players play with a shield; over here, they don't. It doesn't bother me because I've had it since I was 18 years old. I'm so used to it. I don't know about players here. They don't seem to like playing with it."
Tucker went after Blake after initially dropping to the ice.
Blake didn't receive a penalty for high-sticking Tucker, yet six of the nine penalties called in the game were for high-sticking.
Blake was surprised by Tucker's reaction.
"I was talking to the ref. He thought it was our centerman, Dave Scatchard's stick," Blake said. "When he got up and came after me, I was dumbfounded. I didn't even know. I was like 'It wasn't my stick.' It was an accident. It's unfortunate that it had to happen."
Renberg and Gary Roberts scored for the Maple Leafs, who are still first in the Eastern Conference with 61 points despite winning just two of their last six games.
The Philadelphia Flyers, who lost Tuesday, are second with 59. The Ottawa Senators, who have 60 points after winning Tuesday, are looming in the Northeast Division.
Belfour, rarely tested in the first two periods, recorded his 70th career shutout, three fewer than New Jersey's Martin Brodeur on the active list.
"We played a strong defensive game tonight," said Belfour, who allowed seven goals in the previous two games.
Toronto managed just four shots in the first period but took a 1-0 lead on Renberg's one-timer from the faceoff circle at 9:02.
New York's Mattias Weinhandl hit the post with a shot midway through the second.
The Islanders managed just one shot in the first 10 minutes of the third but 11 in the final 10 minutes.
Belfour stacked the pads and robbed Blake of a goal with six minutes left. Fans chanted "Eddie!, Eddie!" after the save.
Toronto's Mats Sundin made a pass from behind the net to Roberts, who gave Toronto a 2-0 lead with 2:39 left. Renberg also assisted.
The Islanders emptied their net with just over a minute left.
Game Notes: New York ended Toronto's 16-game point streak on Dec. 27 at Nassau Coliseum. ... Toronto defenseman Tomas Kaberle returned after missing five games with a shoulder injury. ... New York's Alexei Yashin and Mark Parrish are sidelined with injuries. ... Toronto lost consecutive games to Philadelphia this past weekend. ... Toronto forwards Alexander Mogilny, Robert Reichel and Wade Belak, as well as defenseman Ken Klee, also are sidelined with injuries.