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Leafs powerless against Penguins

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by John McCauley

The Toronto Maple Leafs were looking forward to giving their power play a test against the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night but the officials didn't think they made the grade.

After watching a number of possible infractions ignored by referees Dennis LaRue and Mike Leggo, the Leafs never got a chance with the man-advantage until the third, in their 1-0 loss to the Penguins at Air Canada Centre.

Nothing but a pair of fighting majors (Tie Domi and Krzysztof Oliwa) and two minor penalties to the Leafs, carried the game into the final 10 minutes. The referees remained silent until Toronto finally got a break with 8:32 left in the game.

Down by a goal the Leafs pulled out all the stops but couldn't get anything past Johan Hedberg, despite the forward combo of Alex Mogilny, Mats Sundin and Gary Roberts.

Head coach Pat Quinn kept the trio together for the rest of the game with some success deep in the Penguins' zone but they couldn't register the tying goal. Even though Toronto controlled most of the play, Hedberg's hot goaltending kept Pittsburgh alive.

More juggling by Quinn put Domi on a line with Alyn McCauley and Jonas Hoglund in the final two minutes. The line created a turnover resulting in a nice shot from Hoglund inside the face-off circle. Hedberg made the stop but left a rebound for Domi, who was being held.

Bryan McCabe gets physical with Jan Hrdina.
(Credit: Graig Abel Photography)
"Tie was pretty upset on that play and rightfully so," McCauley said. "It seemed like he did get hog tied and had three hands on the stick when there should have been two."

Domi knew he had a shot at that puck.

"If I didn't have my stick held, I probably could've tapped in a rebound," Domi said. "(The ref) was standing right there but we didn't get the call."

The Leafs realized the referees were going to stretch the rule boundaries and tried to use it to their advantage but without reward. A tough grinding game should work in Toronto's favour over the Pens, especially with players like Roberts, Darcy Tucker and Shayne Corson.

"I rather them call a game like they did tonight, than call a penalty every two minutes," Roberts said. "They definitely let the game go and I don't have a problem with that as long as it's fair both ways. We just didn't capitalize 5-on-5 like we wanted to."

Maybe if Toronto had gotten a couple more opportunities, they could have potted the game-tying marker on the power play, which ranked 21st coming into the game.

"They let a lot go both ways, I guess we weren't working hard enough to draw penalties," said McCauley. "When you are working hard and moving your feet, you almost make the referee call a penalty."


Notes: The loss ended the Leafs two-game winning streak ... Attendance for the game was 19,271 ... Sundin has more goals against the Penguins (25 in 33 games) than against any NHL team ... Jan Hrdina has five goals, seven assists in 13 career games against Toronto ... Curtis Joseph blocked 22 of 23 fired his way in the tight loss. Toronto faces the Rangers in New York Thursday night.

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