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Leafs Win In Overtime

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs


MONTREAL (CP) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs were outshot, out-chanced and often outskated, but the only thing that matters to them is they weren't outscored.

Jeff O'Neill scored a power-play goal in overtime to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 5-4 win Saturday over the Montreal Canadiens.

"If you're going to be a good team, you have to win some of these games,'' said Leafs captain Mats Sundin. "When you look at the shots and the chances against, well Eddie (Belfour) had a really strong game for us. But we'll take the two points, for sure.''

With the Canadiens serving a penalty for too many men on the ice, their third in the last four games, O'Neill slapped a one-timer off a Tomas Kaberle feed for his ninth goal of the season at 4:13 of overtime.

"A big thing about that shot is getting a pass where you want it,'' said O'Neill, who has five goals in his last five games. "(Kaberle) put it right in my wheelhouse, and I was trying to get it on net as quickly as possible.''

Montreal lost despite outshooting Toronto 38-24. They missed three chances with wide open nets where Belfour was caught out of position.

For Canadiens coach Claude Julien, watching his team getting caught on lazy line changes has grown quite tiresome as Montreal earned its sixth bench minor of the year at the most inopportune time.

"It was a lack of communication on a line change,'' Julien said. "We are the only ones to blame.''

Bryan McCabe, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Kyle Wellwood and Jason Allison scored for the Leafs (9-7-2), who ended a three-game road losing skid. McCabe added two assists on the night, giving him three points for the second time in his last three games.

Andrei Markov, Michael Ryder, Steve Begin and Alex Kovalev scored for Montreal (12-3-3) while Saku Koivu had two assists.

Belfour was busy in the Toronto net, stopping 34 of 38 shots, while the Canadiens' Jose Theodore made 19 saves in front of a 10th straight sell-out crowd of 21,273 at the Bell Centre.

With the Leafs ahead 3-2 going into the third, the Canadiens charged back with two goals in a span of one minute and 15 seconds to surge ahead.

Begin was parked in the goal mouth when he converted a perfect feed from Radek Bonk for his sixth of the year at 7:22 of the third.

Kovalev's seventh goal of the year came at 8:37 with a one-timer of a Koivu feed into the top corner past a screened Belfour to give Montreal it's first lead of the game at 4-3.

Allison tied the game with only 2:28 left in regulation when he tipped a clearing attempt by Canadiens defenceman Mathieu Dandenault off the end glass, over the Canadiens net, off Theodore's back, off the post and in.

"He's missed a lot of wide open nets over the last little while, so I guess he deserved to have one that went off the glass, off the back, off the crossbar and in,'' joked Leafs winger Darcy Tucker.

Referee Stephane Auger originally waved the goal off, but the video replay showed the puck clearly went over the line.

"Sometimes the bounces go your way, and other times they don't,'' Dandenault said. "I don't think God was on our side tonight.''

The Maple Leafs were fortunate to escape the first period in a scoreless tie. Toronto killed off four straight penalties before the game was 15 minutes old and was outshot 18-4 in the period.

That doesn't include two shots blocked by Leafs players after Belfour gave away the puck and was caught out of his net.

The Leafs caught the Canadiens two men short in the second period and grabbed a 1-0 lead on the power play.

Kaberle sent a pass across the blue-line to McCabe, who got a slapshot past Theodore at 4:27 of the second for his sixth goal of the year and third in four games.

Three minutes later, Ponikarovsky scored short-handed to make it 2-0 Leafs. He jumped on a loose puck and skated down the right wing before his wrist shot went off Theodore's glove and in for his fifth of the season.

Montreal came back with two goals in four and a half minutes to tie it.

Koivu left a drop pass for Markov at the Toronto blue-line, and his soft wrist shot beat Belfour through the legs at 11:11 for his second of the year.

Ryder's snap shot from the left circle beat Belfour while the Canadiens enjoyed a power play at 15:42 of the second.

Montreal nearly took the lead while short-handed in the 18th minute of the period when Begin came in alone on a breakaway. Belfour left his net to try and poke the puck away, but Begin deked around him only to see his shot at an empty net hit the post.

Wellwood re-established Toronto's lead at 19:12 when he converted a perfect feed from Nikolai Antropov on a give-and-go for his fourth of the season to make it 3-2 Leafs.

Notes: Canadiens defenceman Sheldon Souray (foot) and winger Jan Bulis (shoulder) did not dress...Defenceman Wade Belak and forwards Mariusz Czerkawski and Clarke Wilm were scratched for Toronto... Kovalev's assist on Markov's goal in the second was the 400th of his career...



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