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Leafs Recover From Long Island Loss With Eagle's Shutout of Devils

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
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(Ticker) -- Ed Belfour is doing his best to make people in Toronto forget about Curtis Joseph.

Belfour made 38 saves for his league-leading fifth shutout of the season and Travis Green scored the game's lone goal as the Maple Leafs posted a 1-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils.

After losing Joseph to free agency, the Leafs signed the 37-year-old Belfour, who many said was on the downside of his career, to a two-year contract.

Belfour has shined, entering Saturday's contest with better numbers than Joseph, who signed with defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit.

Belfour continued his big season in this one, making 24 saves over the first two periods before turning aside 14 shots in the third. He recorded his 63rd career shutout - most among active goaltenders.

"The beginning of the season, it was not to be expected and I didn't let it bother me," Belfour said about the expectations of replacing Joseph. "Once the fans see how you work, they're going to support you after a while."
Belfour shut the door again.
Graig Abel Photography

Corey Schwab, New Jersey's backup goaltender who served the same role in Toronto last season, talked about Belfour replacing Joseph.

"Eddie has got a good chance to be a Hall of Famer," Schwab said. "Cujo as well. It's not like some young kid coming and replacing Cujo. He's a capable goaltender and showing it now. I wasn't surprised he took a while to adjust to the team because they play different than Dallas."

Belfour came up big in the waning moments of the game on a New Jersey power play, twice robbing Scott Gomez to preserve the shutout. Belfour has won his last five starts and is 10-3-0 in his last 13 appearances.

"He was really solid again," Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. "That was a terrific outing for him. He was in control and gave our team a sense of, `We're not going to get scored on.'"

Green scored 12:53 into the first for the Leafs, who have won six straight home games. Afterward, he praised Belfour.

"Eddie was awesome again," Green said. "He's been playing great. I can't say enough about him."

The game marked a return to Toronto for Schwab, who backed up Joseph last season. He got the start in place of Martin Brodeur and did not have much work, making just 13 saves.

Belfour was spectacular for the entire night, especially in the final 2 1/2 minutes, after Darcy Tucker was called for holding with 2:43 remaining.

On the ensuing power play, Belfour made his first big save when he stopped Turner Stevenson's one-timer from the left circle.

Belfour also turned aside Oleg Tverdovsky's one-timer from the high slot. On the rebound, he denied Gomez from just to the right of the crease with a pad save.

"That's key, being able to see the first shot," Belfour said, "and having the guys block them out from getting the second shot and letting me get the rebound."

"I thought we had a lot of opportunties to score but he was able to make the saves," Devils center John Madden said. "He made them look easy. I think that was the difference tonight."

New Jersey failed to cash in on any of its four power-play chances and is scoreless in its last 14 opportunities with the extra attacker.

The Leafs needed a big third period from Belfour as they managed just three shots.

Green provided the game's only offense with 7:07 left in the first period when he unleashed a wicked wrist shot from the left faceoff circle. The puck caromed off the left goalpost and behind Schwab, giving Green his third goal of the season.

"We had an odd-man rush," Green explained. "Bryan (McCabe) threw the puck to me, I just took a wrist shot that went off the post and in."
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