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Kings Dethrone Leafs

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO (CP) -- Dustin Brown is hoping Wayne Gretzky will be kind enough to pass on a scouting report on him to Team USA.

Gretzky, the executive director of Canada's Olympic hockey teams, took in the Los Angeles-Toronto game Tuesday night while on hiatus from his job as head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes and American right-winger Brown stole the show by scoring both goals in the Kings' 2-1 victory.

"I don't know if I've been playing good enough to be on that (Olympic) team but that's what I'm working towards,'' Brown said.

None of the Leafs on Canada's preliminary list of 81 for the Olympics _ Ed Belfour, Bryan McCabe, Eric Lindros, Jeff O'Neill and Jason Allison _ showed Gretzky anything that would induce him to favour their selection.

No, it was Brown and goalie Mathieu Garon, who had a superb 36-save effort, who impressed most as a peeved pack of Kings _ they'd just lost in Ottawa and Montreal _ squeaked past the Leafs.

Darcy Tucker was the only Leaf to beat Garon.

"We've been struggling a little bit _ playing well but not getting the wins,'' said Brown. "To get this win, it's a big relief for the team.''

Belfour failed for the third consecutive start to get the 448th win that would give him sole possession of second place on the all-time list ahead of the late Terry Sawchuk.

"He's such a great goalie and he's had such an awesome career that it's just great to play against guys like that,'' said Garon. "But you don't want to be the ones giving him the chance to win that game.''

Despite a 37-23 shots advantage, Toronto lost for the third time in four games. The Leafs were 1-for-9 and the Kings 1-for-8 on power plays.

"You'd like to score on maybe two, maybe three of those,'' said Toronto's Tie Domi. "Sometimes they do in for you, sometimes they don't.

"You've got to give (Garon) credit. He played well.''

Brown opened the scoring 3:36 after the opening faceoff. His third shot at the puck on Belfour's doorstep sent it bouncing into the net. It was the first goal since Oct. 28 for the 21-year-old native of Ithaca, N.Y.

He scored again 4:06 into the second with Toronto's Carlo Colaiacovo was off for slashing. Mattias Norstrom cruised in from his blue-line position on the power play to slap a shot that Belfour stopped with his glove. The puck dropped into the crease and, with Belfour doing a snow angel trying to smother it, Brown reached in to poke it in for his sixth goal of the season.

"It was 10 or 11 games, I'm not really sure,'' Brown said of his scoring drought. "It's nice to get it out of the way and take that pressure off myself, and it's a lot better to do it in a win.''

Brown is on the bubble in terms of being selected for Turin, but maybe Gretzky will pass on a good word or two to American counterpart Don Waddell.

"He was battling around the front of the net and those were typical Dustin Brown goals,'' said Kings coach Andy Murray. "They weren't goals where he picked (the puck) up and went end to end.

"They were scored within four feet of the goal. He missed a few chances in recent games but tonight he was there and put it in.''

The Leafs got back into it after Alexander Frolov cut Aki Berg and was assessed a four-minute penalty for high-sticking at 5:29. The puck was in the Kings' zone for more than two minutes without a whistle until Craig Conroy, who'd lost his stick, picked it up and tossed it into the neutral zone.

"It felt like 15 minutes,'' said Garon.

Conroy was sent off for closing his hand on the puck and Toronto had a two-man advantage.

Tucker slammed in a cross-ice pass from Tomas Kaberle at 8:33 for his team-leading 13th goal.

McCabe took a roughing penalty for straight-arming Sean Avery, and Belfour made a 10-bell save to keep Avery off the scoresheet late in the second.

Garon was unbeatable in the third, when the Leafs had a 13-4 shots edge. Toronto's attempt at a late rally was stymied when Allison was sent off for interference with 1:36 remaining.

"We played hard and it's a great win,'' said Murray. "To come in here and win in Toronto, it's nice.''

McCabe has more points than any other NHL defenceman but didn't have one of his better nights. He took two penalties, and a puck off his right ankle. If he's not picked for Turin?

"So be it,'' he said. "I swear to God, (it's) the last thing on my mind.

"I got a new baby at home to worry about. I've got other things on my mind. If it happens, it happens.''

Notes: Toronto had a 37-23 shots advantage . . . Giveaways: Leafs 17, Kings 7 . . . Garon on Gilles Duceppe's suggestion of a Quebec team for international hockey: "I don't think it's a good idea. Even though we're from Quebec, we're proud to be Canadian.'' . . . Jeremy Roenick spent three days in bed with tonsilitis before lacing up the skates: "Getting back into the flow of things was difficult but once that scoreboard went to zero I felt really good.'' Asked about his future, the veteran forward said: "Who knows where my life is going to lead? You know, I might sign with (the Leafs). I'm a free agent next year. This is hockey heaven. How could anybody not want to play hockey here?'' . . . Chuck Berry sang Johnny B. Goode as a montage of Johnny Bower in action was shown on the screen above centre ice. Bower, the goalie who helped Toronto win its last NHL championship in 1967, stood and waved when the capacity crowd of 19,403 realized he was seated behind the Leafs bench and cheered loudly . . . Toronto's next game is at home against Dallas on Saturday (CBC, 7 p.m. ET).

 

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