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Offence takes care of Habs

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO (Ticker) -- In a span of two weeks, Gary Roberts has made up for lost time.

Roberts scored two goals in the second period and assisted on another as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 6-4, to extend their winning streak to five games.

Roberts had three goals in October before going without one for 16 games. He halted that skid with a hat trick in Toronto's 6-3 victory over the New York Rangers on December 6.

His first goal at 13:10 of the second period extended Toronto's lead to 3-1. It developed after Benoit Gratton committed a turnover deep in Toronto's zone. Roberts fed the puck to Tomas Kaberle, who left a drop pass for Dmitry Yushkevich in the low slot. Yushkevich fed it back to Roberts, who beat goaltender Jose Theodore to the stick side.

Gary Roberts has started to regain last year's form.
Montreal cut the deficit to one just over 2 1/2 minutes later on defenceman Stephane Quintal's second goal of the season.

But Roberts lucked out with one second left in the period. With time running out, he was behind the net before sending the puck went off Montreal defenceman Sheldon Souray's skate and past Theodore.

"I heard everybody yelling and CuJo (Curtis Joseph) was slamming on his stick at the other end," Roberts said. "I just knew I didn't have a lot of time left. I saw Mats (Sundin) in front of the net and just tried to shoot it in front of the net and hope for the best and was fortunate that it went in."

It was the eighth consecutive game the Maple Leafs scored at least one power-play goal. After Theodore surrendered the fourth goal, he was pulled for Jeff Hackett at 17:08 of the third. Theodore made 31 saves in Thursday's 3-2 win at Philadelphia and went 8-5-3 in Hackett's absence.

Montreal took a 1-0 lead on Gratton's first goal of the season 7:45 into the contest. But its lead lasted just 39 seconds as Yushkevich snapped a 12-game goalless drought as Toronto began to take control.

"It's one of those things, bad bounces," added Montreal centre Doug Gilmour, who guided the Maple Leafs within a game of the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals. "We're not going to blame it on the bad bounces. We played awful."

Hackett, making just his second appearance after nearly a two-month absence, allowed goals to Darcy Tucker and Robert Reichel, sealing Toronto's seventh consecutive home victory over Montreal.

Tucker's linemates -- Alexander Mogilny and Shane Corson -- have been rolling, helping the Maple Leafs open a seven-point advantage over the Boston Bruins in the Northeast Division.

Each member of the line had two points, and the trio has combined for 23 over the last five games, during which the Maple Leafs have outscored opponents, 26-16.

"We're playing hard," Tucker said. "Obviously, when you are playing against the other teams' top line, they're going to take some chances and you're going to get some opportunities to put the puck in the net."

Although the Canadiens scored four goals, they were outplayed throughout, getting outshot 48-16, including a 17-3 bulge in the final period.

Numerous defensive breakdowns led to one of Montreal's worst losses of the season. One was when Chad Kilger overskated the puck on the perimeter of Montreal's zone. Tucker took the puck and put it past Hackett for his 10th goal.

Joseph, who was named to Canadian Olympic team prior to the game, was not spectacular, making a season-low 12 saves.

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