By John McCauley
November 8, 2003TORONTO
-- Pat Quinn couldn't have asked for a better going away present than a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers Saturday night.
The two points extended the Leafs unbeaten streak to four games just before embarking on six-game, 12-day West Coast road trip starting Wednesday in Anaheim.
Toronto will get a first-hand look at the Ducks, Kings, Sharks, Flames, Oilers and Canucks before returning to the friendly confines of Air Canada Centre.
It was important for the Leafs to build on something positive before heading out and their performance against the Oilers wasn't stellar, but a win's a win and they took advantage of their opportunities.
"We only had four chances and scored on three of them heading into the second half of the second period," Quinn said.
|Bryan Marchment and Marty Reasoner race for the puck. |
(Graig Abel Photography)
Mats Sundin was dancing, racking up a goal and assist. Alex Mogilny netted a pair and a helper. Mogilny's power play goal marked the sixth-straight game the team had tallied with the man advantage. All a coach can ask for is a special teams' production and right now the Blue & White is providing that to Quinn.
"I guess I'm a 5-on-3 specialist," Mogilny said of scoring two of his three goals this season with a two-man advantage. "All I tried to do is hit the net. (The power play) hasn't picked up we just happened to score a couple goals lately."
The backlash from the 7-1 debacle last Saturday night seems to have passed, but the Leafs know a poor road trip will have the cat calls out again.
"In this town every night has to be a top-notch performance," Mogilny said analyzing the team's change in fortune. "It's a tough market here. You have to have a thick skin."
Another plus was Ed Belfour controlling his rebounds and his defencemen looked confident even when the Oiler forwards were putting the pressure on early and in the third on the powerplay.
Joe Nieuwendyk remains sidelined with back spasms, but resting three days should have him back by the time Wednesday night's game comes around. PILAR RETURNS
It's been a long road back to the NHL for Karel Pilar. He just hopes it's an extended stay.
The offensively gifted defenceman has been recalled from his conditioning stint with St. John's and will be with the team on their road trip. Pilar has spent almost the last calendar year recovering from a virus that attacked his heart.
He hasn't played since December due to the virus and a couple setbacks. Trying to return he was getting dizzy and had to shut things down. A couple months of complete rest was all that was needed to build his heart's strength back up. He has felt normal for the last four months, but has only been exercising the last two.
"I was worried at first, I was scared," Pilar said. "I feel physically perfect (now). I think I'm in game shape, but the NHL is a different league than the AHL. I felt good down there. I don't see any reason why I shouldn't play like I used to."
Pat Quinn said he will play soon.
"We need to give him chance to try it again," Quinn said.
The only question is who will have to sit out, barring injury, to get him into a game. Likely candidates include Ric Jackman and Bryan Marchment.