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Leafs weather Calgary's flames

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
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TORONTO (Ticker) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs continued a troubling trend, but still escaped with a win.

Despite getting outshot for the 10th straight game, the Maple Leafs ran their home unbeaten streak to 13 as captain Mats Sundin scored the go-ahead goal with 7:59 remaining and Ed Belfour made 31 saves in a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames.

The Maple Leafs looked out of it through 40 minutes as they were outshot 27-7. But they held a 15-6 advantage in the final period and escaped with a win.

Toronto has been outshot 332-204 over its last 10 games but is 6-3-0-1 in that span. Ironically, the streak started in a 4-3 win at Calgary on December 27, when it was outshot 27-26.
Robert Reichel started the Leafs on the comeback trail.
Graig Abel Photography.

Tuesday also was the fifth time during the last 10 games the Leafs allowed an opponent to record 10 more shots than them.

Sundin, who scored his first goal since returning from a shoulder injury Saturday in Boston, knows his team can't keep playing that way.

"You want to put the odds on your side, and when you're being outshot, you're not really doing that," he said. "You count on your goalies to make a lot of stops. If you keep doing that night in and night out, it's going to catch up to you."

"We're in that stage right now where our team play's not solid," Toronto coach Pat Quinn added. "We have some good individual efforts. But 20 individuals don't win hockey games. They do when they come together, but we're not at that together stage at this particular time."

Sundin gave the Leafs the win by teaming up with Nik Antropov and leading scorer Alexander Mogilny on a pretty passing play started in the neutral zone.

After Mogilny and Antropov exchanged cross-ice passes, Sundin took a drop pass from Antropov near the left boards and made his move.

With ease, he skated unchecked past Flames defenseman Toni Lydman and threw a wrist shot over goaltender Roman Turek's pads.

Sundin's 19th goal came after Robert Reichel brought the Leafs back in the contest with his sixth on a 4-on-4 after Robyn Regehr and Tie Domi were called for roughing.

Reichel converted Jonas Hoglund's pass from behind the net as his blast from the doorstep eluded Turek.

Flames coach Darryl Sutter thought Domi's intentions were to draw the penalty.

"I think the difference right away was 4-on-4," he said. "When you're overmatched with skill you don't want to get in that situation because then its more time and space for more skilled players.

"The Reichel goal, that's what happened. Tie's whole mindset was to get a 4-on-4 there, so he did his job."

Belfour made the two goals stand up and kept the Leafs in it with a series of stellar stops. In the second period, when he faced a 2-1 deficit, he stopped Chris Clark, and with 42 seconds left in the third, he denied Jarome Iginla on a breakaway.

"He's a our best player," Sundin said of Belfour. "He's been doing that the whole season, giving us a chance to win. When you have goaltending like that, you will have a chance to win the hockey game.

"It was a confidence-builder. I think when you come from behind late in the game, it is always nice for your confidence. At the same time it probably wasn't our best game. Hopefully we learned a little lesson, but we'll take the two points and move on."

The Leafs fell behind when Stephane Yelle flipped a backhander past Belfour at 5:14 of the second. His eighth was just three minutes after Craig Berube netted his second of the season.

Berube was credited with the tying goal, when his skate deflected defenseman Denis Gauthier's shot off a faceoff.

For the second straight night, the Maple Leafs were dominated in the first period, getting outshot 15-1.

But unlike Monday's 5-1 loss to the New York Rangers, when they were outshot 16-4 in the opening period, the Leafs had a 1-0 lead, thanks to Antropov's 11th goal and some stellar saves from Belfour.

The Leafs did not get a shot until Antropov scored with 1:22 left in the first.

After taking a cross-ice pass from Sundin, Antropov skated past Lydman and pushed a backhander past Turek.

Prior to the goal, the closest Toronto got to a shot was when Aaron Gavey rang the goalpost midway through the period.

"You look at the first two periods, they were two of our best periods of the year and that doesn't make us feel any better," Iginla said. "It probably makes us feel worse that we didn't get the win out of a game like that. They probably didn't deserve to win, but that's what good teams do. We've got to remember that and know how someday we can hang in there and hang there and get the win, and that's what they did tonight."

"We came out good in the first period and could have been up two, three goals," Flames winger Martin Gelinas added. "But we didn't and obviously they've got some skils. They came back and Sundin scored a key goal for him."

At 12-0-1, the Leafs are in the midst of their longest unbeaten run on home ice since a 14-game streak at Maple Leafs Gardens in 1970-71.

The Flames dropped their fourth straight game following a season-high five-game unbeaten streak.
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