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Pilar gets advice and it works

Tuesday, 03.12.2002 / 12:00 AM / News
Toronto Maple Leafs
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Pilar gets advice and it works
by John McCauley

TORONTO -- Ed Belfour gave young Karel Pilar a bit of advice. Change sticks and your fortunes will follow.

The 37-year-old veteran may have single-handedly turned around Pilar's season after he scored the overtime winner in Tuesday night's 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was the Leafs' fourth straight win and just the second goal of the season for Pilar, who has struggled with his consistency.

Already sent down once after making the team out of training camp, Pilar desperately searching for answers agreed with Belfour about the stick swap. He could even feel the difference during the morning skate.

Mikael Renberg looks for a rebound.
Allsport
"Eddie told me to change my stick. I told him I was going to score tonight," Pilar predicted. "It was just lucky I guess."

Luck may have had a little to do with Pilar roofing a Mats Sundin pass over Nikolai Khabibulin, but it didn't have anything to do with the determination the Leafs showed in their comeback. Down 2-0 in the first and then 3-2 in the third, Toronto used an aggressive forecheck to force themselves back into the game and the eventual victory.

"We were pressing hard and I just told myself, 'keep working hard and don't allow that next goal'," Belfour said. "They got those two quick goals and we didn't let it bother us."

Belfour really gave the Leafs the chance for the win making two huge saves in the third, both on partial breaks by Vinny Prospal and Tim Taylor.

"That's my job. I take pride in making the big save and I enjoy doing it."

Vincent Lecavalier did burst his bubble with a goal that will no doubt be on highlight reels for years to come. Robert Reichel made up for that individual effort to force OT and give Pilar a chance to shine.

"We just kept plugging away and shooting the puck," said Jonas Hoglund, who started Toronto down the comeback trail. "We never quit. That's a good sign."

THE UNIFORM MAKES THE TEAM?

The Leafs wore their road blues in the game as a favour to Tampa Bay. The Lightning had to wear white in their 4-3 loss to the Rangers Sunday because of New York's dark third jersey. It allowed Tampa to bring just one uniform on its road trip.

Toronto last donned its blue uniforms on Nov. 15 at Buffalo. During the seven straight games in home whites the Leafs registered a 5-2 record.

HEALING?

  • Shayne Corson missed his sixth straight game with a groin injury. The veteran forward is practising and expects to return soon, but the team isn't ready to risk what can be a nagging injury.
  • Ric Jackman fell awkwardly into the boards in the third period and didn't return. His expected to be fine.
  • Bryan McCabe has been cleared to practice. He is recovering from a broken bone in his foot.
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