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Leafs Sink Isles in Wild One

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO (CP) -- Fifteen goals, 14 power plays and four lead changes.

When one of the wildest NHL games you'll ever see was finally over, Ed Belfour was just happy to have 448 career wins and his place in history.

It took the 40-year-old goalie six tries to move past Terry Sawchuk into second place on the all-time win list, but he finally did it on Monday night with Toronto's 9-6 victory over the New York Islanders.

"It took forever,'' said Belfour, who pulled into a tie with Sawchuk on Nov. 28 and took three weeks to pass him. "The guys just played unbelievable. It took nine goals, but I'm really thankful and honoured.

"You never thought it would happen (like that).''

Matt Stajan, with two, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Ken Klee, Mariusz Czerkawski, Jeff O'Neill, Kyle Wellwood, Mats Sundin and Darcy Tucker scored for Toronto (17-13-3), which had lost five of its last seven.

Eric Godard, Mark Parrish, Alexei Yashin, Rob Collins, Mike York and Arron Asham replied for the Islanders (16-14-2).

Belfour finished with 27 saves and heard the 19,403 fans in attendance at Air Canada Centre chant his name as the final seconds ticked down.

"It's a tribute to all the guys I've played with, all the great teams I've played on,'' Belfour said of the milestone. "I'm just really thankful.''

He now trails only Patrick Roy's 551 career goaltending victories.

"That's a long way away,'' said Belfour.

New York finished 3-for-10 on power plays while the Maple Leafs were 1-for-4.

Toronto has allowed nine power-play goals against in its last two games.

"To win a game with that parade to the penalty box requires a good effort and a little luck,'' Sundin said. "If you score six goals in this league, you're going to win nine out of 10 times.''

After a wild first 20 minutes, the Maple Leafs scored four goals in the second period to bury the Islanders.

Wellwood gave Toronto a 5-4 lead at 7:34 when he took a long pass from Tomas Kaberle and roofed the puck over Rick DiPietro. Belfour collected an assist _ his 32nd NHL point _ on the goal.

"The main goal for us was to be good for (Belfour),'' said Wellwood, who also had three assists. "It felt like junior out there.

"There was a lot of open ice and I was able to do something with it.''

Less than two minutes later, Stajan completed a short-handed 2-on-1 with Sundin and sent DiPietro to the showers. The native of Winthrop, Mass., allowed six goals on 17 shots the same night he was named to the American Olympic team.

"We lost control of the game,'' said Yashin.

Added Islanders coach Steve Stirling: "Sloppy is the best word I can come up with.''

Stajan made it 7-4 when he beat Garth Snow for his second of the night at 11:52 and Sundin, with another short-handed goal, made it 8-4 before the second intermission.

All that, and it was only the second strangest period of the game.

"The main thing is that we pulled out the win,'' Stajan said while his teammates celebrated around him. "There's a lot of smiles in this dressing room.''

In the first period, Toronto spent two full minutes playing with a two-man disadvantage and allowed three power-play goals, but escaped tied 4-4.

Godard opened the scoring at 2:11 with his first NHL goal in 76 games. He was planted in front and had the puck go in off his left foot for a goal that needed to be confirmed by video review.

"It was just a weird game,'' the Islanders tough guy said afterwards.

Toronto took a brief 2-1 lead midway through the period on goals by Ponikarovsky and Klee before losing its cool and handing New York consecutive 5-on-3 power plays.

Parrish and Yashin scored on those to make it 3-2. Yashin's goal came after Parrish steamrolled Belfour and resulted in yet another power play for the Islanders when Toronto's Bryan McCabe took exception to it.

Leafs coach Pat Quinn and referee Paul Devorski had a heated exchange in front of the Toronto bench after that.

"What am I supposed to say? You watched it,'' said Quinn, who has already been fined once this season for complaining about the refereeing. "The kinds of calls tonight, you wonder what's going on.

"I don't get it. I really don't get it.''

It looked like Toronto might fall to pieces when Collins, a 27-year-old playing his second NHL game, scored his first goal at 17:28 to give the Islanders a 4-2 lead.

But the rejuvenated Czerkawski, with his second in as many games, and O'Neill scored quickly to pull the Leafs even at 4-4.

"It was just a nice simple game,'' quipped Sundin.

Notes: The last time Toronto had nine goals on home ice was April 10, 1999, when they beat the Florida Panthers 9-1 . . . O'Neill hobbled off the ice favouring his right knee late in the third period. Quinn said he suffered a charleyhorse . . . Klee was plus-4 in the game while Parrish was minus-5 . . . The Maple Leafs are 8-0 when Ponikarovsky scores . . . Toronto forwards Alex Steen (thumb), Nik Antropov (knee), Tie Domi (shoulder) and Eric Lindros (wrist) were unable to play . . . . . . Forwards Shawn Bates (hamstring), Jason Blake (concussion) and Kevin Colley (healthy) sat out for the Islanders



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