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Leafs end three-game slide in Tampa Bay

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- Jonas Hoglund had a goal and an assist and Curtis Joseph made 16 saves as the Toronto Maple Leafs averted a potentially disastrous road trip with a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Hoglund scored five minutes into the third period, extending the Leafs' lead to 4-0. With goaltender Kevin Weekes caught out of position, he collected a rebound at the right side of the net and stuffed it in. Hoglund also set up Mats Sundin's goal 55 seconds into the game that put Toronto ahead for good, 1-0.

The Leafs began their five-game road trip with a loss to Carolina, then followed with back-to-back defeats to two of the NHL's worst teams -- Atlanta and Florida. In the process, they fell from first to fourth in the Eastern Conference.

"We played well. Obviously, we were due for a good game," Joseph said. "We showed a lot more resolve tonight. Tampa is a much stronger team now, so you don't take them lightly. Tonight we got some confidence back that we definitely needed. We were more determined. We were smarter tonight."

"We wanted to get back to playing the same kind of hockey we were playing before Christmas," Leafs center Darcy Tucker added. "We haven't put three periods together in a while, so heading to Boston with four straight losses would have been tough. We changed that tonight and now have a little momentum."

Tie Domi scored the eventual game-winner 9 1/2 minutes into the second period. Tucker's pass from behind the net hit teammate Robert Reichel and bounced to Domi at the top of the crease, where he pushed it around Weekes' right pad. It was Domi's first goal since December 13.

"We were good in their zone, we put the puck where we wanted," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. "We forced a lot of errors and we kept them on their heels throughout the game, something we were doing before Christmas. We had let that slip away."

Joseph carried a shutout into the final period, but Martin St. Louis ended it with 7:34 remaining. Dave Andreychuk stole the puck from defenseman Jykri Lumme in front of the net and passed to St. Louis, who skated across and flipped it over Joseph's glove.

Defeseman Wade Belak had the other goal for Toronto, which won for just the second time in seven games. Belak deflected Garry Valk's slap shot from the right faceoff circle for his first goal of the season, giving the Leafs a 3-0 lead.

"I figured with all my chances, I would be lucky and get one at least for the season," Belak said. "It was good to get it out of the way. It's nice to score every 40 or 50 games. More importantly, it's a nice bonus because our team played extremely well tonight."

Weekes made 34 saves but has just one victory in his last five starts. Tampa Bay has lost three straight after posting its first three-game winning streak of the season.

"We didn't deserve squat tonight. Nobody showed up to play," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "All you can do is hope it doesn't repeat itself. The true test of our team will be how we bounce back from this."

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