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Belfour turns away 50 in 2-1 Maple Leafs victory

Saturday, 04.01.2003 / 12:00 AM / News
Toronto Maple Leafs
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Belfour turns away 50 in 2-1 Maple Leafs victory
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 TORONTO (Ticker) -- The injuries continue to mount for the Toronto Maple Leafs. And so do the home wins.

Ed Belfour made a season-high 50 saves and Travis Green scored the go-ahead power-play goal with 16:31 remaining as the Maple Leafs extended their home unbeaten streak to 11 games with a 2-1 triumph over the New Jersey Devils.

Toronto was coming off Friday's 2-0 loss in the opener of this home-and-home series and were without injured regulars Mats Sundin (shoulder), Shayne Corson (groin), Karel Pilar (flu), Nik Antropov (shoulder) and Mikael Renberg (hand) for the finale.

The Maple Leafs lost right wing Tom Fitzgerald to an apparent back injury and center Robert Reichel with a left wrist injury, although Reichel returned in the third.

But Belfour stopped almost everything thrown his way, helping Toronto improve to 10-0-1 in its last 11 games at the Air Canada Centre. Two of the wins have come against the Devils, with Belfour combining to stop 88 of 89 shots.

"It's never easy when you face 51 shots," Belfour said. "For the most part, the guys kept the second chances down and let me see all the shots. So that was key."

"I can't say enough about Eddie Belfour," Green added. "He held the fort. And anytime you get goaltending like that, you get a chance to win."

Belfour earned the first star for his 50 saves in the win.
Graig Abel Photography

The Maple Leafs were on just their second power play of the game after New Jersey winger Turner Stevenson was penalized for high-sticking 2:06 into the third period. Former Devil Alexander Mogilny threw a cross-ice pass to the bottom of the left faceoff circle, where Green one-timed a shot that got a piece of goaltender Martin Brodeur but trickled into the net.

New Jersey coach Pat Burns argued unsuccessfully that Green was playing with a broken stick.

"It's a broken stick at the end," Burns said. "There's supposed to be a roll of tape at the top of it. You can't fault the referee because he can't see it. We saw it. There's not much you can do about that."

Green was tongue in cheek when asked about the goal.

"I'm not really sure what they were talking about," he said. "I think there was a piece of tape on the ice or something. We'll just kind of leave it at that. ... It felt close to the same length."

Jamie Langenbrunner scored the lone goal for the Devils, who fell to 13-9 in one-goal contests. They have scored just 11 times in the last seven games.

"Every team goes through a time where they don't score," said New Jersey center John Madden, a Toronto native. "We play well, but we don't score goals. ... We don't have a guy who's going to be a threat every time going down the ice."

The Devils dominated the first period with a 17-7 advantage in shots. But Toronto scored the lone goal as Fitzgerald moved down the slot, got a centering pass from Aaron Gavey and swept the puck past Brodeur for his third goal.

Midway through the second, however, Fitzgerald was shoved to the ice by rookie Christian Berglund and did not return.

"I twisted and felt my ribs a little bit," Fitzgerald said. "It was a sharp pain that hit me. I'll just take it day-by-day."

New Jersey tied it on the power play with 5:21 to go in the second period. With 10 seconds left on defenseman Bryan McCabe's high-sticking penalty, Langenbrunner was unchecked in front of the net and tapped Scott Gomez's centering feed past a helpless Belfour.

"I thought we were all over them," Gomez said. "But we had our chances to tie the game and we didn't take advantage of them."

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