STATS | SCORESHEET | PHOTOS
TORONTO (CP) - Ed Belfour perfectly summed up a topsy-turvy evening that ended brilliantly for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"That was just crazy, an emotional roller-coaster,'' the 40-year-old said. "One minute you're a slug and the next minute you're a hero.''
The veteran Maple Leafs netminder made 49 saves during the game and three more in the shootout as Toronto rallied to beat the Boston Bruins 5-4 Monday night.
Belfour gave up a pair of weak ones in the second period and a brain cramp led to Boston's fourth goal in the third period, but in-between and in the late stages Belfour saved Toronto's bacon.
"Eddie really played well in the third period. He kind of stole the show,'' said Bruins captain Joe Thornton, who had two assists.
"I think the second period he kind of let a couple floaters in, but he found his confidence in the third.''
Eric Lindros scored the lone shootout goal on a nifty backhand deke while Alexei Ponikarovsky, Tie Domi, Bryan McCabe and Alexander Khavanov scored in regulation for the Leafs (5-2-2), who were outshot 53-32 but stole two points thanks to Belfour.
"Eddie got good at the right time _ he was awesome,'' said Leafs head coach Pat Quinn.
Brad Boyes, Patrick Leahy, Ian Moran and Glen Murray scored for the Bruins (4-5-1), who have yet to win a game against a Northeast Division club (0-5-1).
|(Graig Abel Photography) |
"I thought we gave it away,'' said Bruins defenceman Brian Leetch. "I don't know what else to say. We gave away points today to a team in our own division. It's unacceptable.''
The Bruins had a glorious chance to win it with a 5-on-3 man advantage for 38 seconds in the final minute of the third period, but they generated very little other than Leetch's wrist shot which Belfour snagged with a sharp glove save.
Boston carried a 4-on-3 power play into overtime thanks to Alexander Steen's high-sticking double-minor on Patrice Bergeron, but Belfour again closed the doors with several saves, igniting chants of "Eddie, Eddie'' after stopping a one-timer off Bergeron himself.
"You definitely feel that,'' Belfour said of the fans' support. "Especially when you give up a couple of goals you usually don't give up, they're still behind you. That's a great feeling.''
The Bruins' power play went 0-for-10 while Toronto remained hot with the man advantage, going 2-for-4.
"When you get a 5-on-3 in the last minute of the game and a 4-on-3 for that duration in the overtime, your expectation is to when the hockey game,'' said Bruins coach Mike Sullivan. "We didn't do that tonight and that's disappointing.''
Toronto was cruising with a 2-0 lead after the opening period but appeared to get a little too comfortable. The Bruins came flying out of the gates in the second period, outshooting the hosts 24-6. Leahy and Moran scored 35 seconds apart early in the period to quickly tie it up 2-2.
"We were fine in the early going but then took a soft penalty early on in the second period and carried on that soft approach in the period _ they (the Bruins) were by far the better team,'' Quinn said. "You just can't play that way. We can't expect our goalie to keep winning games for us.''
Despite five wins in six games, Quinn remains concerned with his team's soft defensive play, the Leafs having given up 13 goals in their last three games.
"We're not playing as a team right now,'' Quinn said. "We're not checking well.''
Boyes, traded away along with Alyn McCauley and a first-round pick in the ill-fated Owen Nolan deal in March 2003, put Boston ahead 4-3 just 3:05 into the third period, grabbing a loose puck from a wandering Belfour in the corner of the ice after the veteran Toronto goalie realized he wasn't allowed to play it there under the NHL's new rules.
In hindsight, it probably would have been worth the minor penalty for delay of game because Boyes stuffed the puck into an near-empty net as a retreating Belfour tried to find his bearings.
"I felt bad about that stupid play,'' Belfour said. "It's just frustrating, it's a new rule and you just have to deal with it.''
But Ponikarovsky had 19,383 fans on their feet at Air Canada Centre when he shovelled in a rebound from Matt Stajan's shot, the short-handed goal tying it 4-4 with 4:37 left in the third period.
"You just can't give up a goal in a short-handed situation,'' said Leetch.
Murray gave Boston a 3-2 lead at 11:04 of the second period with a wrist shot from 35 feet that handcuffed Belfour and squeezed through his legs, one he should have had. The Leafs tied it 3-3 with their second power-play goal of the game when Khavanov blasted a knuckler from the left point which beat Andrew Raycroft over his right shoulder at 16:12 of the second period, the Russian's first goal as a Leaf.
Domi opened the scoring 12:20 into the first period, finishing off a pretty give-and-go with Eric Lindros after defenceman Andrew Alberts coughed up the puck in the Bruins zone. McCabe made it 2-0 on a Leafs power play less than two minutes later, backhanding a loose buck through Raycroft's legs.
Notes: Bruins winger Brad Isbister (groin) left the game in the first period and did not return ... The Leafs won their first shootout after losing in two previous attempts to Ottawa ... Defenceman Jiri Slegr (back) and forwards Shawn McEachern (back) and Alexei Zhamnov (shoulder) were out for the Bruins ... Boston plays at Carolina on Wednesday before hosting Toronto on Thursday ... Forwards Mats Sundin (fractured orbital bone) and Nik Antropov (leg)
were out for the Leafs. Winger Mariusz Czerkawski was once again a healthy scratch.