Plenty of Heroes for Leafs
By Matthew Iaboni
December 19, 2005
(Toronto) -- It was old-time hockey at Air Canada Centre on Monday night. The Leafs defeated the New York Islanders 9-6 thanks to six straight goals, four of them coming in the second.
This game was reminiscent of a contest in the 1980s or early 90s. Lost in all the goals was the fact that Ed Belfour finally passed Terry Sawchuk and into sole possession of second place on the all-time wins list with 448.
Vice president and general manager John Ferguson was elated for his number one goalie.
"It was great for Eddie," Ferguson said. "A staggering mark that he has eclipsed and we needed the win as well."
Belfour was all smiles after the game and he was glad to get win number 448 over with.
"It's a real honour," he said. "The guys played great. Nine goals who would've thought that but that's the new NHL."
The Leafs will take the victory after Saturday night's loss to the Ottawa Senators but once again the Leafs took too many penalties as they gave up three straight power play goals, two of them with the Leafs two-men down. It definitely wasn't the start that the Leafs wanted after Saturday's game but like many times before the Leafs were able to comeback.
"It says a lot about our club," said Matt Stajan. "After Saturday, after the first period we showed lots of resilience tonight and came back."
It was an especially good night for the Leafs forward who turned 22 on Monday and had the first multi-goal game of his young NHL career.
"It's been a pretty sweet day," Stajan said. "Our line of me, Welly and Jeff O'Neill we've been buzzing around for the last few games and I told them tonight's our night."
With Alex Steen not in the game due to his thumb injury, Stajan and Mats Sundin killed penalties together and they had a great two-on-one in which Stajan finished off for his first of the game.
The other young Leafs forward in the lineup Kyle Wellwood also had his best offensive game of his career. Like in games past the diminutive centre was nifty all over the ice and he had a goal and three assists.
After the Leafs tied it at 4-4 in the second, Belfour fed Tomas Kaberle who used the no red-line rule beautifully as he found Wellwood who moved in and wired it top shelf.
Throughout his brief NHL career Wellwood has made neat little passes to his teammates who unfortunately weren't able to finish but Monday they were.
"It definitely felt like junior and the AHL out there so it was nice," Wellwood said. "It's always nice to have a good night. Makes you feel good. There was a lot of open ice out there and I was able to do some things."
The news wasn't all good for Leafs however as late in the third O'Neill was hit knee on knee by Janne Niinimaa. There was no penalty on the play and head coach Pat Quinn wasn't to happy after the game.
"He has a bad charley horse," Quinn said. "There'd have been a penalty there if he'd touched him on the glove. The guy deliberately knees him. You watched it, I mean what am I supposed to say?"