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Kings end Leafs good luck

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by John McCauley

TORONTO - The Toronto Maple Leafs had been playing a run-and-gun style of hockey during their five-game winning streak but the team was firing blanks Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre.

It appeared as if some bad luck was catching up with the Leafs while the Los Angeles Kings had their good luck extended with a 3-1 victory. It was the Kings fifth straight win while the loss ended the Leafs winning ways at five.

"You've got to give them (Kings) a lot of credit," Alex Mogilny said. "We started pressing a little bit. They had five guys back and were plugging up the middle, I tell you there was no room out there."

It became increasingly clear as the night progressed that the Leafs couldn't find the offensive pep, which had become their trademark, the past couple weeks. It wasn't for a lack of effort or chances. The puck just wouldn't sit down for the Leafs when they needed it to. The bounces, as they say, weren't going for Toronto.

The Leafs powerplay had its worst night since their streak started, going 0-for-6, with only sporadic pressure. Mogilny, Shayne Corson and Tomas Kaberle all had point-scoring streaks end at five games because of the futility.

Corey Schwab didn't get much luck against the L.A. Kings. Graig Abel Photography
Even when Darcy Tucker made it 2-1, with just under 10 minutes left in the third, fate struck when Adam Deadmarsh fluked in a bad-angle shot off Corey Schwab less than a minute later.

"You couldn't shoot from there a hundred times and have it go in," Tucker said. "It's a bad break, it's hockey, you have to battle through that."

The loss spoiled Schwab's home debut but he didn't think the breaks were going to keep his team down.

"From my perspective, I wasn't thinking this wasn't our night, we were getting chances," said Schwab, who got the start because Curtis Joseph has been battling the flu. "It's unfortunate we didn't win but we'll bounce back."

The tough times started in the first when Tie Domi, Garry Valk and Alyn McCauley were buzzing around the net only to have it dislodged and end the opportunity.

Things didn't get any better in the second when Mogilny cut to the net and pounded the puck right into former Leaf Felix Potvin's chest. The gifted goal scorer looked to the heavens for answers but none came to him or the Leafs.

Captain Mats Sundin didn't buy into it not being the Leafs night or their luck running out. He was plain and simple with his explanation for the loss.

"We just didn't play well," Sundin said.

The Leafs have two days to find a four-leaf clover or two before facing the Buffalo Sabres in a tough home-and-home series, Friday and Saturday night.

NOTES:The 2001-02 edition of the Leafs became the sixth fastest team to reach the 20-win mark (33 games) in franchise history. The record is held by the 1934-35 Toronto squad, which recorded their 20th win in 28 games. ... Toronto ranks second in the league with 74 even-strength goals. The Rangers are first with 75.

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