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Leafs fall short vs. Oilers

Tuesday, 11.02.2003 / 12:00 AM / News
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Leafs fall short vs. Oilers
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TORONTO (CP) - The Edmonton Oilers eked out a win, 5-4 over the Toronto Maple Leafs, but saw captain Jason Smith go down with a separated right shoulder Tuesday night.

Left-winger Ryan Smyth also was unable to finish the game but his injury wasn't as serious - he described it as a bruised left shoulder - as the one that is forcing his teammate to fly home while the rest of the Oilers continued on to Ottawa for a game Thursday night.

"We were able to grind one out under tough circumstances,'' said defenceman Eric Brewer.

Ethan Moreau, Marty Reasoner, Anson Carter, Shawn Horcoff and Brewer scored for the Oilers, 26-18-6-6, who traditionally play well in Toronto.

"We have a lot of guys from Ontario in this locker room,'' said Carter, who grew up in Toronto. "There was a lot of pride at stake.

"We don't come to Toronto very often so the guys always want to have a good showing here.''

Edmonton will bring in reinforcements from the AHL farm team in Hamilton for the next four games of the road trip.

"We'd be lying if we said we weren't going to have a tough time without (Smyth and Smith),'' said Brewer. "We've just got to deal with it.

"Hopefully the injuries don't keep them out too long. We need those guys to be successful.''

A separated shoulder usually sidelines a player for at least three weeks.

Mats Sundin, Alyn McCauley, Tie Domi and Robert Svehla scored for the Leafs, 30-21-4-1, who had won five in a row. They play in Chicago on Wednesday night.

Wade Belak had his way with Dan Cleary.
Graig Abel Photography
Earlier in the day, Steve Stavro passed his share of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment to Ken Thomson, and Larry Tanenbaum stickhandled through the middle of the realigned ownership group to score the board of directors chairmanship to be vacated by Stavro on June 30. But the Leafs were unable to present the boss-to-be with a win on his big day.

"That was a bad game for us,'' said Sundin. "We got it close at the end but we didn't play well enough to win.''

Edmonton had to play one-half of the opening period at manpower disadvantages. There were six power plays, and Toronto had five of them. Yet, Edmonton led 1-0 on Moreau's short-handed goal at 17:28. Steve Staios shot from the circle to the right of goalie Ed Belfour and the puck bounced in off Moreau.

Smith didn't appear for the start of the second period. He was checked into the end boards by Darcy Tucker in the game's opening minutes. There was no penalty on the play, and Smith wasn't angry about that afterwards.

"Darcy plays hard and will finish his check all the time,'' said the six-foot-three defenceman. "A lot of players in the league do that.

"I mean, hey, it's part of the game. You move on. Hopefully, I'll get back to playing quickly.''

Nik Antropov was ejected after a fight 51 seconds into the second period with Brewer when the referees saw Antropov had failed as required to fasten the bottom of his jersey to his pants.

Then Smyth got hurt. Svehla caught him with a clean body check with his head down. Smyth had the wind knocked out of him. He tried to play his next shift but cut it short and headed to the showers.

"It's day to day,'' he said. "They're going to keep me around and they'll take another look at it in the morning.''

Reasoner made it 2-0 at 11:17 of the second. He was in the right spot when a puck disappeared into Svehla's equipment then dropped in the middle of Toronto's zone. He gathered in the loose puck and fired it past Belfour.

After Wade Belak pummelled the much smaller Dan Cleary in a fight, Carter made it 3-0 at 12:29 with a high wrist shot from the middle of the Leafs' zone.

Georges Laraque went after Belak to atone for the whipping adminstered to Cleary. The heavyweight bout was indecisive although Laraque succeeded in throwing Belak to the ice. Despite losing two skaters, the Oilers outshot the Leafs 18-8 in the second period.

With 65 seconds to go in the period, Sundin passed from behind the net. The puck struck an Oiler in front of goalie Tommy Salo and caromed into the net for Sundin's 27th goal.

McCauley made it 3-2 at 2:45 of the third period. He appeared to be too closely checked by Scott Ferguson to do anything, but Tom Fitzgerald threaded a pass that McCauley whacked past Salo.

Brewer beat Shayne Corson to a rebound and banged it past Belfour at 4:46.

"This is the way we like to play - a bit more open and lots of skating,'' Brewer said of the wide-open contest.

Domi made it 4-3 at 9:06. Salo went behind his net for a loose puck, and he fanned on his attempt to shoot it around the boards. Domi didn't waste time to say thanks. He pulled the puck towards the crease and slipped it into the vacated net.

Horcoff made it 5-3 by shovelling in a rebound on a power play at 10:05 after Fitzgerald took a bad penalty. Edmonton's success in countering each goal during the Toronto rally impressed coach Craig MacTavish.

"That's one thing that's been absent the other times that we've had two-goal leads,'' he said. "We hadn't answered back, but this time we answered back.

"We've been guilty of being tentative in those situations in the past and hopefully this will be something that will allow us to continue to be more aggressive both offensively and defensively.''

Svehla scored at 13:59 by slapping a shot from the circle to the left of Salo. It was too little, and too late. "That's a huge win for us,'' said Smyth. "These are crucial points for us.

"We're battling in our division over there (in the West) and we have to find ways to get some points. These are bonus points out east.''

Depth in the farm system was tested earlier this season, and it will be once again.

"We've got great depth in Hamilton,'' said MacTavish. "We're confident those guys can come in and do a good job for us.''

Notes: Shots were 34-34 . . . On powerplays, Edmonton was 1-for-4 and Toronto 0-for-6 . . . The Leafs announced earlier in the day they will hold part of September training camp in Stockholm so they had Prime Minister Goran Persson of Sweden drop the puck during a ceremonial faceoff. Persson urged Sundin to bring the Stanley Cup to his homeland this summer . . . Sundin turns 32 Thursday . . . Quinn deleted healthy forward Paul Healey from his lineup for the sixth consecutive game . . . The team bonus plan implemented by Leafs president Ken Dryden pays each player $500 for a three-game winning streak, an additional $400 for a fourth straight win, another $1,250 for five, another $1,500 for six, another $1,750 for seven and an additional $2,000 for eight and each successive win.
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