Leafs Rally For Big Win
November 12, 2005
(Montreal) -- After having a tough outing on Friday night in Buffalo, Ed Belfour rebounded with perhaps his best game of the season as he helped the Leafs defeat the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 in overtime. Jeff O'Neill's one-timer on the power play decided the issue but it wouldn't have mattered without Belfour's performance.
"Clearly at the end of the first it could have been 5-0 but for Eddie," head coach Pat Quinn said.
Belfour was spectacular helping the Leafs kill off four penalties before the game was 15 minutes old.
"We showed a lot of character," said Bryan McCabe. "We battled back after last night. Your best penalty killer is your goaltender."
The playoff-like atmosphere wasn't lost on the players.
"This is as good as it gets," said captain Mats Sundin. "This road trip last night in Buffalo and tonight was great."
"It was electric tonight for a lot of reasons," Quinn said. "Honouring two wonderful players (Dickie Moore and Yvan Cournoyer) to begin with and then when these two comes on the ice, it is a terrific place to be. It's like a privilege to play in these games."
Quinn realized it was a miracle that it was scoreless after the first period. Then, as a two-man advantage was expiring, Bryan McCabe scored on his patented slapper and the Leafs fans at the Bell Centre finally had something - other than Belfour - to cheer. It was only the Leafs seventh shot of the game to that point.
The Leafs jumped out to a 2-0 on a shorthanded goal by Alexei Ponikarovsky but the Canadiens quickly responded and tied the game up leaving the Leafs fans at the dramatic turnaround.
Late in the second, Kyle Wellwood, who saw little ice time because of all the penalties, worked a give-and-go with Nik Antropov to put the Leafs up 3-2 heading into the third.
But just like the night before, the Leafs faltered and found themselves trailing 4-3. Then with 2:28 to go, the Leafs tied the game on a strange goal when the puck bounced over the net and Jason Allison made the most of the break to snap his 11-game goalless drought. Video review was needed before the Leafs and their fans breathed a sigh of relief to tie the game.
Late in the overtime, the Canadiens were called for too many men and it was the final break that the Leafs needed.
Sundin made a key play by winning the draw. The Leafs worked from McCabe to Tomas Kaberle to O'Neill who whistled it upstairs to snap the Leafs four-game road losing streak.
"I'm just trying to shoot it on net," O'Neill said. "The big thing was the pass from Kabby, it was a perfect pass."
The Leafs bench erupted onto the ice mobbing O'Neill who gave a big hug to his netminder.
"They're all beautiful wins," Sundin said. "Eddie had a strong game for us and it was a big win for us."
The Leafs fans here to make a special night certainly appreciated it.