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Leafs Bitten By Sharks

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are giving Brian Burke plenty to think about ahead of the NHL trade deadline.

Patrick Marleau scored twice Thursday as the San Jose Sharks edged Toronto 2-1, sending the stumbling Leafs to their seventh loss in eight games.

Burke put the team on alert when he told a Toronto radio station Wednesday that he was in the market for a goaltender. Judging by the team's play of late, he probably won't stop there.

James Reimer earned the start in goal against the Sharks and did his part with 24 saves. However, his record fell to 11-9-4 on the season.

Marleau was the only player to beat him with a pair of second-period goals that lifted the Sharks (32-20-7) to their first win in five games.

Jake Gardiner replied for the Maple Leafs (29-25-7), who fell to 1-6-1 since Feb. 7.

The teams took some time to feel their way into the game, producing a tepid opening 20 minutes. But Marleau put the Sharks ahead early in the second period by quickly firing a Joe Thornton pass over Reimer's shoulder just 32 seconds in.

That put Toronto back on its heels and allowed San Jose to gain some momentum.

Marleau scored his 25th of the season _ and second of the night _ just 17 seconds after Luke Schenn was penalized for interference. The forward stood at the top of the crease and tipped a Logan Couture shot past Reimer.

There was an uneasy feeling in the Air Canada Centre as the horn sounded on the second period with San Jose ahead 2-0. A smattering of boos could be heard in the otherwise silent arena.

It changed quickly following the intermission as the Leafs came out firing.

Gardiner narrowed the deficit to 2-1 at 3:53 by firing a shot through traffic that eluded Sharks goalie Antti Niemi. The fourth goal of the season for the rookie defenceman couldn't have come at a much better time.

Toronto kept on pushing and saw two good chances from Matthew Lombardi turned away. Niemi was out at the top of his crease to deny the second one from the slot. That was as close as the Leafs would get.

Burke will only get one more opportunity to watch his team before the trade deadline passes on Monday afternoon. The Leafs face Washington on Saturday night _ and will likely have fallen outside of the top eight in the Eastern Conference when the puck drops on that one.

Leafs defenceman Mike Komisarek was scratched for the ninth time in 11 games. ... Recently acquired San Jose forward Dominic Moore sat out with a lower-body injury. ... Former Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. is now director of pro scouting for the Sharks. ... Andrea Bargnani of the Toronto Raptors took in the game. ... Announced attendance was 19,493.

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