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Islanders sink Leafs late

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO (Ticker) -- Don't put an "x" next to the Toronto Maple Leafs just yet.

Mark Parrish scored twice as the New York Islanders erupted for three goals in a 3:05 span of the third period and prevented the Maple Leafs from clinching a playoff spot with a 5-4 come-from-behind victory.

Toronto could have clinched a postseason berth with a win, tie or overtime loss. And it took a 4-2 lead 3 1/2 minutes into the third period on Paul Healey's second goal in as many games.

But Maple Leafs teammates Mats Sundin and Garry Valk went to the penalty box 19 seconds apart, giving the Islanders a two-man advantage. They converted at 9:16 as defenseman Roman Hamrlik ripped a one-timer from the top of the slot past goaltender Corey Schwab for his eighth goal.

Alyn McCauley is contributing in many ways.
Graig Abel Photography
Just 39 seconds later, Parrish absorbed a couple of cross-checks from defenceman Aki Berg before redirecting Shawn Bates' pass from along the goal line for his 29th goal.

Parrish reached the 30-goal mark for the first time and put New York in front with 7:39 remaining. He was unchecked above the crease and put in a rebound after Schwab stopped Alexei Yashin's wrist shot from the top of the slot.

"Alexei did what he does," Parrish said. "He controlled the game, controlled it going down the ice, opened himself up and got a good shot off."

Chris Osgood stopped 28 shots and got help from the crossbar and goalposts as the Islanders won for the fourth time in five games. They moved two points ahead of seventh-place New Jersey and climbed within four of fifth-place Ottawa in the Eastern Conference.

Travis Green, defenseman Bryan McCabe and Valk also scored for Toronto, which has split its last four home games after an eight-game unbeaten streak at the Air Canada Centre.

"It's something we're aware of, but it isn't something we talked about. We have been interested in first place, not in clinching a (playoff) spot," Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. "But first place is not going to happen if we play like we did. All in all, it was very disappointing."

Toronto controlled the opening 20 minutes with an 11-4 edge in shots, but the first period ended with the score tied, 1-1.

A former Islander, Green worked a give-and-go with Tie Domi, got the return feed at the edge of the right faceoff circle and put a one-timer past Osgood for his 10th goal.

But Leafs defenseman Wade Belak backhanded a rebound off the crossbar and Alyn McCauley hit the goalpost seconds later midway through the period.

Michael Peca tied it with 61 seconds left in the first, beating Schwab with a low slap shot from the top of the right circle.

"It was one of those games where if we had asserted ourselves, we would have won," Quinn said.

Bates put New York in front just 75 seconds into the second period, finishing off a 2-on-1 with Yashin, who collected three assists. But Toronto tied it on McCabe's power-play goal 6:50 and took the lead less than three minutes later when Valk swept a rebound past Osgood.

In between, Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle put another shot off the post.

Healey established the game's first two-goal lead 3 1/2 minutes into the third period, snapping a shot from the top of the right circle over Osgood's left shoulder.

"Against a team like Toronto, it's a big boost of confidence," Parrish said.

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