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Fighting It Out Not A Priority

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by John McCauley

TORONTO -- Many were calling for a bloodbath beforehand, but instead the Leafs and Islanders looked more like they were in the bubble bath Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre.

With all the animosity and hype these two teams have demonstrated towards each other since last year's first-round playoff battle, this game had a very good chance of being reviewed by the NHL's front office.

Normally a play like this Jyrki Lumme takeout would have caused some fisticuffs.
Graig Abel Photography
That wasn't the case though as both teams stuck to business in a 3-3 draw, which had some wild momentum swings. The Leafs carried the play for two periods, but couldn't turn this one into a blow out and were forced to settle for a point after three bad goals in the third.

Ed Belfour definitely wanted the first to cross the goal-line back, a squeaker through the five-hole on a backhander from the blueline by Adrian Aucoin After that his teammates were unable to tighten up defensively around him and a couple turnovers led to the tying result.

"We can't have those kind of things happen," Pat Quinn said.

The fact Toronto dominated the play in the first, second and overtime periods was no solace after the game.

"When a team is down we have to finish them off," said Owen Nolan, who scored two goals. "We came out sluggish in the third. We have some fine tuning to do."

With the scoring chances heavily in the Leafs' favour and the Islanders still fighting for playoff spot, it pretty much put a hold on anyone dropping the gloves. Not even the fuel of Darcy Tucker returning to the lineup after his five-game suspension could ignite any tangos between tough guys.

"Nothing got out of hand it was a good hard fought game," said Wade Belak, who dressed as forward with Jonas Hoglund nursing a bad back. "Nobody wanted to put their team in trouble. It was a big game for them."

Sure there were a few hits and a couple verbal assaults, but nothing else materialized. Quite simply there was too much on the line for New York to continue the fued the way it wanted.
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