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Leafs comeback falls short again

Tuesday, 15.10.2002 / 12:00 AM / News
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Leafs comeback falls short again
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NEW YORK (Ticker) -- After being acquired last March, Pavel Bure scored 12 goals in 12 games for the New York Rangers. He's already ahead of that pace this season.

Bure made an impressive season debut with two goals and an assist to lead the Rangers to a 5-4 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Sidelined for three games with strep throat, Bure scored with 99 seconds remaining in the second period to cap a three-goal outburst and give New York a 3-1 lead. The "Russian Rocket" tallied again less than seven minutes into the third for his 26th goal in 34 games against Toronto.

Matthew Barnaby and defenseman Tom Poti each added a goal and an assist for the Rangers, who lost superstar Eric Lindros less than six minutes into the second period when the center was given a boarding major and game misconduct for hitting defenseman Wade Belak behind the Maple Leafs' net.

Wade Belak was forced to leave the game with a head injury.
Graig Abel Photography
"We think it was pretty questionable and unfortunate," Rangers coach Bryan Trottier said of the call. "The way we saw it was Belak was falling down and Eric actually stops himself with his arm. Then he crashed into him too hard, but Belak was going hard into the boards. Eric's momentum pushed him, but not any harder into the boards."

Belak was helped to the locker room and did not return.

"Even talking to Wade coming off the ice, he told me that he fell," Lindros said. "I think he got his skate caught between the boards and the ice. His body tangled up with mine. We both went down. I tried to get my stick and body against his as we hit the boards. I was trying to protect myself and him as well."

Mike Richter made 29 saves for his second win of the season while Trevor Kidd stopped 23 shots for Toronto in his third straight start in place of Ed Belfour, who is out with an infected finger.

Defenseman Tomas Kaberle notched a goal and an assist for the Maple Leafs, who dropped their third consecutive contest after a season-opening 6-0 rout of Pittsburgh.

Toronto carried a 1-0 lead into the second period after Jonas Hoglund converted a pass from Kaberle at the left side of the net for a power-play tally 6:17 into the game.

But after killing Lindros' five-minute penalty, Barnaby drew New York even when he intercepted a pass by Toronto's Tom Fitzgerald in his own zone and beat Kidd on a breakaway with 7:36 left in the second.

"Most of my goals don't make the back of the net," joked Barnaby, whose shot trickled between Kidd's pads. "My shot's not hard enough. Fortunately, that one got across."

"I was chasing him because another guy was chasing him," said Bure, who followed Barnaby on the play. "I tried to get in front of him so Barnaby would have more room and maybe a rebound as well."

Fitzgerald admitted his pass was ill-advised.

"We made some mistakes tonight and we need to correct those," he said. "I didn't know Barney was there. I'll take responsibility for it, I should know better and I'll learn from it."

Poti put the Rangers ahead just over five minutes later with a slap shot from the top of the right faceoff circle while on the power play. Bure whipped in a shot from below the right circle off a feed from Barnaby 41 seconds later to make it 3-1.

The Maple Leafs cut the deficit to one with one second remaining in the period. While on the man advantage, captain Mats Sundin fired a slapper from the left circle that hit teammate Darcy Tucker in the crease. The puck bounced off both of Richter's legs before trickling toward the goal line.

Tucker's tap-in attempt hit the left post, but the puck glided across the crease and caromed off the Toronto winger's right skate for a power-play goal.

After an apparent goal by Barnaby was disallowed early in the third because the puck was hit with a high stick, Bure restored New York's two-goal advantage with a power-play tally from low in the right circle.

"I try to read the game and anticipate," Bure said. "I don't just run around. That comes with experience where sometimes you just have to slow down and play."

Kaberle again pulled Toronto within a goal with 6:10 remaining, but Bobby Holik recorded his first point as a Ranger when he threaded a backhanded pass across the slot to Mikael Samuelsson, who tapped the puck past Kidd for the eventual game-winner.

Toronto coach Pat Quinn cited his team's inability to capitalize on the five-minute power play as the reason for the loss.

"We didn't support the puck," he said. "I have no answer for it because all of the lines went to real pond hockey. One guy would stickhandle through and nobody was available for a pass, and that gave them life."
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