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Leafs Face Coyotes In The Desert

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
October 23, 2003

GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (2-2-2-0) at Phoenix Coyotes (3-2-0-0).

TIME: Thursday, 10 p.m. EDT.

Through five games, the Toronto Maple Leafs were absolutely clueless on special teams. One game later, they look a lot smarter.

The Maple Leafs will try to build off a solid effort in their last outing when they wrap up a five-game road trip with a matchup against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Heading into Wednesday's 3-1 win at Dallas, the Maple Leafs had just two power-play goals in 27 opportunities this season. However, Joe Nieuwendyk scored with the man advantage with 6:58 remaining against Dallas as Toronto climbed to .500.

Toronto was also having problems killing penalties, succeeding just 78.3 percent of the time (18-for-23) coming into the game. But the Leafs appear to have fixed their problems as they killed off all four short-handed situations Wednesday.

"It was a great night for us," Nieuwendyk said. "I hope this is a springboard for us for good things ahead."

Another positive sign for the Maple Leafs was captain Mats Sundin ending his scoring drought. His assist on Nieuwendyk's goal was his first point of the season.

After opening the season with three consecutive wins, the Coyotes have dropped two straight, including a 5-4 loss to visiting Philadelphia on Saturday. Phoenix has been betrayed by its defense during its slide, allowing 10 goals after giving up just two during its winning streak.

The Flyers had three power-play goals in 10 chances as the Coyotes took 16 minor penalties, including two double minors.

"You don't want to retaliate, and that's where controlling emotions comes into play," Coyotes coach Bob Francis said. "I think we lost control, obviously, at times, and it cost us."

Paul Mara had three assists for Phoenix.

STANDINGS: Maple Leafs - 6 points, 4th place, 4 PB, Northeast Division. Coyotes - 6 points, 3rd place, 2 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Nik Antropov, 2 goals; Tomas Kaberle, 3 assists; Kaberle, Matthew Stajan and Ric Jackman, 3 points; Tie Domi, 11 PIM. Coyotes - Daymond Langkow, Shane Doan and Ladislav Nagy, 2 goals; Mara, 4 assists; Daymond Langkow, Doan, Mike Johnson and Mara, 4 points; Cale Hulse, 23 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 21): Maple Leafs - Power play: 7.4 percent (2 for 27), 28th in NHL. Penalty killing: 78.3 percent (18 for 23), 25th (tied). Coyotes - Power play: 18.2 percent (4 for 22), 12th. Penalty killing: 84.8 percent (28 for 33), 12th (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Ed Belfour (2-2-2, 1 SO, 2.34 GAA); Mikael Tellqvist (0-0-0, 1.62). Coyotes - Sean Burke (3-1-0, 1, 1.72); Brian Boucher (0-1-0, 5.00).

2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 17, 2002; Maple Leafs, 5-3. At Toronto, Shayne Corson scored twice and Alexander Mogilny added three assists for Toronto. Mara had a goal and an assist for Phoenix.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 2-1-1-0 on the road; Coyotes - 1-1-0-0 at home.

-- Associated Press
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