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Leafs Looking for Answers

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

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Maple Leafs 2 0 0   2
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by Matthew Iaboni

December 5, 2006

(TORONTO) -- Three days after not being able to hold 2-0 and 3-1 leads Saturday in Montreal, the Leafs once again found themselves on the losing end after a tough third period.

"Yeah definitely this wasn't acceptable," said Alex Steen. "We didn't help Rayzor (Andrew Raycroft) out. He made some huge saves in the first and second and we should have won it for him at least."

Early in the season the Leafs were averaging well over 35 shots a game and scoring plenty of goals. Tuesday against Atlanta, the Leafs only mustered 19 shots in the 5-2 loss.
The Leafs will need to stay out of the box to get back on track.
(Graig Abel Photography)


The Leafs didn't have any jump at the start of the game and that didn't change in the final 40 minutes. It finally caught up in the third as the Thrashers once again scored five third period goals.

This is second game in a row that the Leafs have lost a lead in the third and the players are looking for answers.

"I think it's something that we need to work on as it's cost us games and we need to work on it because we're missing out on some points," Steen said.

Head coach Paul Maurice admitted that the team's psyche isn't very good right now.

"Well there's not a lot of confidence in the room," he said. "The work ethic has been good but it has to be perfect right now for us to win."

Although the third is when the Thrashers erupted to pull away from the Leafs, Maurice gave his thoughts as to the game's turning point. 

"We lost the game in the second period," he said. "You can't stay in the box all the time. You still have hope at 2-2 but you're still on your heels. Our forwards turned the puck over in the third and they couldn't stick handle with it because many of them were tight from not playing a lot in the second."

The Thrashers came out of the gate strong and had the Leafs on the ropes but Raycroft was very solid between the pipes.

In the second period Raycroft was particularly strong as he made 17 saves, many of those when his team was shorthanded. Toronto was shorthanded five times in the second but solid penalty killing had the Leafs up 2-0.

However that good fortune couldn't last forever.

"We took too many penalties," Raycroft said. "Its hard to get a rhythm and it takes the whole rhythm out of the game. We've proven that in the last week and a half you can't give them chances."

Maurice didn't know where his team would be without the play of Raycroft in the first two periods.

"We send everyone home after two if he isn't as good as he was in the first two," Maurice said.

Mike Peca was very disapointed in the way he and his teammates performed Tuesday.

"We escaped the barrage and had them where we wanted them but to have back to back third periods like that is disappointing. Bottom line it is a disgrace."

Maurice and his troops get back to action on Thursday when they start a two-game road trip first in Boston and then in Detroit on Saturday.

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