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Leafs Spoil Hull's Glory

Sunday, 07.12.2003 / 11:24 AM / News
Toronto Maple Leafs
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Leafs Spoil Hull\'s Glory
December 6, 2003

TORONTO (AP) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs spoiled Brett Hull's night.

Gary Roberts and Mats Sundin had a goal and an assist apiece to lead Toronto to a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday and extend the Maple Leafs' winning streak to eight games.

Hull scored his 731st NHL goal, moving the Red Wings forward into a tie with Marcel Dionne for third place on the career list.

Hull skated with the puck across the front of the Toronto crease, waited until goalie Ed Belfour went down, and lifted in a backhander off Belfour's helmet for his 15th goal of the season at 19:40 of the first.

After returning to the Detroit bench, Hull asked for the puck. Dionne has been in third place since retiring in 1989. Wayne Gretzky is first with 894 goals, followed by Gordie Howe, who scored 801.

Bryan Marchment scored for the first time in 57 games.
(Graig Abel Photography)

""It's an honor for me to be a part of that group. Maybe we can do it in the next game as a part of a win,"" Hull said.

Hull, who is 39, doesn't want to think about surpassing Howe because he fears a lockout next year will ruin his chances.

""It's in the back of your mind, but with the labor issues that we have, you try not to think about it too much,"" Hull said. ""At my age, if there is an extended period of time that we're locked out, I don't think I'd be able to come back.""

Hull has scored in six straight games and has 10 goals in his last 12 games.

Bryan Marchment, Tie Domi and Matt Stajan also scored for the Maple Leafs, who have their longest winning streak since taking 10 straight at the start of the 1993-94 season.

Toronto's streak includes two wins over Vancouver and one against Ottawa, two of the best teams in the NHL. Detroit entered the game tied for the Western Conference lead with the Canucks.

""We've played quality opponents. I'm excited with how we're playing,"" Sundin said. ""We want to be a top team in this league. I think we have the players to be a top team.""

The Maple Leafs ended Detroit's five-game unbeaten streak in a game that had just two penalties.

""This is a good team. We can play with the good teams, and we really believe that now,"" Toronto coach Pat Quinn said.

Roberts, who returned to the lineup after missing two games with a strained hip muscle, gave Toronto a 3-1 lead in the second. Sundin assisted.

Roberts also made a nifty pass to a streaking Sundin, whose breakaway goal gave Toronto a 4-2 lead with 5:41 left.

Less than a minute later, Stajan made it 5-2 with a one-timer from in front of the net.

Roberts credits the defense for the streak.

""Our defense is doing a great job of getting the puck out of our zone. That's where we've had our problems,"" Roberts said. ""We haven't done a very good job of supporting our defense. There used to be too much gap between our defense and our forwards. That's the difference in our game right now. We're a five-man group right now that is supporting each other.""

Marchment, a defenseman, scored his first goal of the season -- and the 39th of his 16-year career -- at 2:46 of the second period. He skated in alone and slipped a backhander past goalie Manny Legace.

Domi, Toronto's enforcer, scored his third of the season at 13:24, redirecting Robert Reichel's centering pass.

Just 23 seconds later, Roberts blasted a slap shot past Legace.

Brendan Shanahan cut Toronto's lead to 3-2 less than a minute later with his 10th goal of season.

Notes: Detroit captain Steve Yzerman left midway through the game and didn't return. He's day-to-day with a groin injury. ... The Maple Leafs have outscored opponents 30-14 in the last eight games. ... Former Maple Leafs goalie Curtis Joseph cleared waivers Friday and has been assigned to Grand Rapids of the AHL. Joseph signed with Detroit before the 2002-03 season to improve his chances of winning his first Stanley Cup after playing four seasons with Toronto. ... The Maple Leafs demoted forward Harold Druken to St. John's after the game.

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