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Leafs play big on Broadway

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Mats Sundin scored his 40th goal and Darcy Tucker and Cory Cross each added a pair as the Toronto Maple Leafs routed the New York Rangers, 7-2, on Wednesday in Manhattan.

Sundin reached the 40-goal plateau for the third time in his career and needs one goal to match his Toronto high set two years ago. He notched a career-high 47 goals for the Quebec Nordiques in the 1992-93 campaign.

The Maple Leafs, with 96 points, have secured themselves home-ice advantage if they were to meet the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the playoffs. The only team that can catch Toronto for fourth place is the New York Islanders who would need to win all three of their remaining games while the Leafs would need to lose both of their final two.

"We've been focused on that the last couple of weeks and Ottawa has been playing well and the Islanders have been playing really well behind us, so we want to make sure we can start the playoffs at home," Sundin said.

"There are two games left until a new season, and stats and all that other stuff goes out the window in a hurry," Tucker added.

Toronto also kept alive its slim hopes of winning the Northeast Division, pulling within three points of idle Boston with two games to play.

With the Rangers trailing, 4-2, Theo Fleury appeared to be taken down by Cross on a breakaway, but no penalty was called. The Rangers collapsed after that as Sundin scored six minutes into the third before Mikael Renberg and Cross tacked on goals, chasing rookie goaltender Dan Blackburn.

The Rangers thought Fleury should have been awarded a penalty shot.

"I'm not sure if there should have been or could have been a call on that play," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. "We've had five or six penalty shots against us this year and four of them should not have been called, so I don't even know if there should have been a penalty. We know (Fleury) goes down a lot, so he may have felt a tug and just fell to the ice."

After Tucker got the first of his two goals 6:09 into the game, the Rangers tied it on Pavel Bure's power-play tally with 8:44 left in the opening period. It was his 12th goal in 11 games since being acquired from Florida before the March 19 trade deadline.

But Cross and Tucker scored second-period goals that caromed off opposing players to give the Maple Leafs a 3-1 lead with 5:02 left.

Lindros responded 79 seconds later, pulling the Rangers within 3-2, but Toronto broke it open with four unanswered goals in the third period.

"The Rangers are out of the playoffs and we're preparing for the playoffs," Sundin said. "It's one of those games where it's nice to get it over with, and we have to move on."

Cross recorded his first career two-goal game, while Tucker set a personal best with his 22nd goal.

"It's nice to get goals," Tucker said. "I'm more excited about the year I had. My overall game improved from that of last year and that's what I'm most proud of."

Shayne Corson started the barrage in the third just 73 seconds into the period before Sundin made it 5-2 at 6:25.

Still just 18, Blackburn was trying to become the first teenager in NHL history to win six straight starts. He joined Tom Barrasso and Allan Bester as the only teens to win five in a row.

Corey Schwab made 21 saves for the Maple Leafs.

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