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Roberts gets on the board

Thursday, 20.02.2003 / 12:00 AM / News
Toronto Maple Leafs
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Roberts gets on the board
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WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Gary Roberts finally has made his presence felt for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Roberts scored two goals and set up another and Alexander Mogilny collected three assists as the Maple Leafs skated to their sixth straight road win, 6-2 over the Washington Capitals.

In just his third game of the season following offseason surgery on both shoulders, Roberts gave Toronto a 2-0 lead midway through the first period with a power-play tally.

The 36-year-old left wing, who signed a one-year contract extension Tuesday, converted a pass from Mats Sundin late in the third for his second goal of the contest, then assisted on Robert Reichel's power-play tally with 15 seconds remaining to complete the three-point night.

"It's nice to get on track," Roberts said. "I didn't feel too good and I wasn't able to really hit, so I was glad to be able to put the puck in the net and contribute that way."

Gary Roberts was key on the power play.
Graig Abel Photography
"He had a heck of a night," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. "He scored from where he scores, about two feet out from around the net. That is an element that when our power play dries up is usually because we don't have anybody around down there. But we got that tonight. It had to do a lot with what Gary does in the middle."

Mikael Renberg, Jonas Hoglund and Travis Green also scored for Toronto, which is one road win from tying the franchise mark.

"Compared to the first month of the season, when we struggled a bit because we were trying to win just by playing well offensively, we have realized that as a group we have to play good defensively. And that is why we are seeing the results right now," Sundin said.

"We are playing better in front of the goaltenders and giving them a chance each night and we are getting great goaltending.

It is a case of all of us being more responsible defensively and getting good offensive chances as well."

Kip Miller and Jaromir Jagr tallied for the Capitals, who fell to 0-4-1 in their last five home meetings with the Maple Leafs.

"We made the bad plays," Jagr said. "If everybody plays the way they should play, we should beat these guys. If we could score goals, it would be a bit easier. We made mistakes that cost us the game."

While on the man advantage, defenseman Robert Svehla pushed a pass from the right point to Roberts, who slipped a turnaround shot behind goaltender Olaf Kolzig from the right side at 12:02 of the second for his first goal of the season.

With just 2:20 remaining in the third, Sundin passed from behind the net and Roberts knocked it past Kolzig for a power-play tally and a comfortable 5-2 lead.

"Anytime you're playing with Mats and Alex, you just have to keep things simple and go to the net. They're great players," Roberts said.

"We all know what he can do," Sundin added. "Tonight he went to the net. On the power play, he is really good in front. He is good with the stick, he almost tipped another one in at the end. ... He fits in really well with the way we are playing."

Roberts nearly missed the game due to the flu.

"I definitely didn't feel very good," he said. "I've had a cold the last several days, I've been trying to fight it off. I had to keep my shifts pretty short tonight."

"Gary was a little under the weather, so it was good to see him pop a couple goals," Mogilny said. "He has been an inspiration for us. I was surprised he played, actually."

Renberg got Toronto on the scoreboard 8 1/2 minutes into the contest with his second goal in 19 games.

After his wrist shot from the left faceoff circle was blocked, tough guy Tie Domi retrieved the puck behind the net and wrapped it around the right goalpost and into the crease. Standing in front, Renberg poked it past Kolzig to open a 1-0 lead for the Maple Leafs, who have won nine of their last 10 games.

Miller drew Washington within 2-1 at 13:54 of the second, ending an eight-game drought with his 12th goal.

Toronto defenseman Bryan McCabe tried to clear the rebound of a shot by Sergei Gonchar from the front of the net but had his stick tied up by Robert Lang. Cutting in from the right side, Miller flipped the puck by goalie Ed Belfour to make it a one-goal game.

Hoglund restored the Leafs' two-goal lead 59 seconds into the third, wristing a shot from the right circle over Kolzig's glove to extend his goal-scoring streak to three games.

"The puck is going in. It's as simple as that," Hoglund said.

"I haven't been playing any differently. I am getting chances and the only difference is the puck is going in right now."

"He has been fighting for respect from the coaches and the fans and everyone else, so maybe that is coming around," Quinn added.

"Maybe he feels a little more comfortable and maybe the fans have gotten on some other people and not just him. And maybe that eased the pressure a bit."

Jagr took a pass in the neutral zone and skated around defenseman Wade Belak before sliding the puck past Belfour at 9:55. But Green stuffed a feed from Alyn McCauley into an open net from the right side less than two minutes later to make it 4-2.

Reichel converted on a two-man advantage to cap the scoring for Toronto, which has been victorious in all three meetings with the Capitals this season.

"We've got some guys out there who want to make a difference and we've got some guys who look to me like they don't want to make a difference," Washington coach Bruce Cassidy said. "They don't want to be put on the spot or be the go-to guy, they just want to play their game and let someone else do it.

"And at some point, when you're a guy who is at the top of the pay scale or is considered a star on your team, you've got to step up in those games. That's not a criticism, it's a challenge."
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