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Leafs drop third straight

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
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TORONTO (Ticker) -- Patrick Roy recorded 20 saves for his second straight shutout and Alex Tanguay and Milan Hejduk scored second-period goals, leading the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-0 blanking of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Roy has endured a sub-par season by his lofty standards, but lately he has had an easy time in the net. The future Hall-of-Famer faced just 18 shots in Thursday's 5-0 victory over Columbus.

"The last three games have been a lot more fun than the first 30-something," said Roy, whose club has won three in a row. "It was an important game for us. The guys were extremely sharp.

It has been like this the last three, four games. We've been playing really well, and that was a good win for us tonight."

This was Roy's 63rd career shutout, tying Toronto's Ed Belfour for tops among active goaltenders. His best save came when he stopped Jonas Hoglund on a breakaway shortly after Hejduk scored late in the second period to give Colorado a 2-0 lead.

Peter Forsberg was a force all night.
Graig Abel Photography
"You've got to be really good to beat him, and you've seen that the last two games," Colorado defenseman Rob Blake said. "He hasn't been beaten."

"As Pat goes, our team goes," Avalanche coach Tony Granato added. "He's been very solid. You can see the smile on his face and you can see he's ready to make a good run for us."

Roy said he always gets pumped up when facing Belfour.

"Every time I play against Eddie, I thik he's going to play a great game," he added. "This year, he's been outstanding. It's always fun to play against him. If you want to win, you have to be ready."

Midway through the contest, Colorado had just five shots, but the Avalanche took advantage of a turnover to score the only goal they needed.

Tanguay intercepted defenseman Jyrki Lumme's pass in the neutral zone and broke in alone. He went to his backhand and flipped a shot over Belfour's stick with 8:26 left in the second period.

"We're not very smart right now," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said.

"We're turning the puck over, we're not dangerous. We're too spread out on offense, and right now we're pretty slow on the puck."

With 2:06 left in the period and Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin in the penalty box for obstruction holding, Peter Forsberg chipped a pass to Hejduk along the goal line. Hejduk calmly lifted the puck over a fallen Belfour for his seventh goal in eight games and 12th on the power play.

Steven Reinprecht capped the scoring with 5:24 left in third period.

"I don't think we're playing as well as we can, giving up a little too many odd-man rushes," said Belfour, who made 17 saves. "We're looking at it. We'll get better."

The Maple Leafs were blanked for the second straight game, suffering a 4-0 loss to Buffalo on Friday, and have dropped two in a row at home for the first time since October 23-26.

Toronto has scored one goal during a three-game winning streak.

"I think we're not getting open for each other," Maple Leafs center Alyn McCauley said. "I think that's causing some problems as far as moving the puck. The defensemen are trying to dump it forward and basically giving it away. I'm not blaming them. It's their fault and our fault. If there's one thing we can do it's to get the puck in their end as often as we can."

Toronto continues to struggle on the power play, going 0-for-5 with the man advantage, falling to 0-for-30 in the last seven games.

"At times in a season, you go through slumps, and we're doing that right now," Maple Leafs right wing Mikael Renberg said.

"The puck doesn't go in for us. I think what we have to do is get the ugly goals, throw the puck at the net and hope for a lucky bounce. Right now, we're hesitant and we don't shoot the puck enough."

In a scheduling quirk, the Avalanche were making their fifth straight appearance in Toronto. But they snapped a four-game winless streak against the Maple Leafs.
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