Culprits get second chance

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

Some days, Pat Quinn's bark is worse than his bite.

Case in point was yesterday morning at the Bell Centre when the Maple Leafs coach picked up where he left off the night before in Buffalo, highlighting many of his club's defensive shortcomings in a 5-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

"We're not winning on the road because we're not controlling our own game as well as we need to," Quinn told reporters. "We gave up a lot of rush chances. (against the Sabres). They come out of turnovers and gambling. That has to come out of our game. On nights when the other team is a little bit better at creating, you lose hockey games."

So naturally, it was assumed the coach would turn to one of his three healthy bodies on this road swing -- Clarke Wilm, Wade Belak or Mariusz Czerkawski -- and give one or two of the culprits from Friday a night in the press box to consider their mistakes.

But Quinn, who gives his miscreant players plenty of rope, came back with the same lineup as in the Buffalo game, from goaltender Ed Belfour out.

"They've given us another chance to prove ourselves so that's what we're going to have to do," said forward Nik Antropov, whose ill-advised hook in the offensive zone led to a key power-play goal for the Sabres in the second period. "Some guys get to play four, five, six, seven games together, so they're just building the chemistry."

Toronto is in a stretch of playing nine of 15 games on the road, with just two wins in seven away games heading into last night. What galled Quinn was that the game in Buffalo was very winnable in the third period.

"It's a (positive) mindset you have to have on the road; it has nothing to do with the building or anything else," Quinn said. "You try and get your team to be mentally tougher in those situations, because clearly, the way the games seem to be this year, with the exception of a few blowouts, the margin of error is so darn close. Montreal has been winning (close) games late and so have other teams."

The Habs already have 10 one-goal victories. Not that their coach, Claude Julien, is ecstatic about the nightly drama.

"I really felt there were games where we really didn't need to be in those situations," he said. "If we had a better start, it might not have got to a one-goal game, overtime game or shootout. We always talk about 60 minutes and that's something our team has not done enough of."


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