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Offence Dries Up In Loss

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs


by Matthew Iaboni

April 3, 2006

(TORONTO) -- After blowing out the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night, it's clear the Maple Leafs should've saved a few of those goals for Monday night as they lost 3-2 in a shootout  to the same Sabres squad.

Toronto played a very sluggish first period and were bailed out numerous times by netminder J.S. Aubin, who made 12 saves in the first period many of which were quality scoring chances.
Pohl played well on the first line.
(Graig Abel Photography)

"We had two so-so periods and we came on in the third but we couldn't get the go ahead goal," head coach Pat Quinn said.

The Maple Leafs were outshot 13-7 after the first but the speed that was in the Leafs game in their three wins wasn't evident at all on Monday.

While the Sabres did play a much better game than on Saturday, Toronto had trouble getting the puck out of their zone to start any rushing ability. They were going backwards more then forward and that reflected in the disparity in scoring chances.

Toronto's first goal didn't come off the rush it came due to good cycling between John Pohl and Mats Sundin. The goal did give the Leafs renewed energy that they used in the third period.

Pohl was an emergency call up before Monday's game as Nik Antropov missed the game with the flu. Pohl the 26 year-old rookie has done well in the six games that he has played this season with the Leafs.

It was a seamless transition for Pohl, the leading scorer on the Marlies who normally plays centre was on Sundin's wing. 

"You know what he is long on effort, he has a good brain, reads the play well, he isn't afraid to stick his nose in," head coach Pat Quinn said.

Due to the fact that Pohl was called up on an emergency basis, he might be sent down if Antropov can play on Wednesday.

"We would have to use a call up and we would have to figure it out," Quinn said. "He had a solid game tonight, he would grade out pretty good after tonight."

The line of Matt Stajan, Alex Steen and Jeff O'Neill had another strong game and once again it showed on the scoreboard with Stajan tieing things up in the third.

The trio definitely has formed some chemistry.

"Jeff is getting open all the time in the slot and Matt does a good job getting to the loose puck but it was too bad we couldn't get the third one," Steen said.

Since being moved to centre, Stajan has improved his game a great deal and that is something that Quinn has also noticed. Stajan saw 18:13 minutes of ice time and Steen saw 18:15.

"He looks like he is playing better at centre," Quinn noted. "We thought we had a little depth at centre so we wanted to leave him at the wing but he has had some strong games at centre."

Even though they took three out of a possible four points in these back-to-back games against Buffalo, Quinn and the team won't give up the hope of making the playoffs but they know they will need help.

"We have to still plug away, we know we need them to fall down a little bit," he said. "We needed some big saves in the overtime but it was a decent game for us and we will try and grow from that."

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