McCabe atones for his gaffes

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:24 AM ET

 For a few minutes last night, Bryan McCabe would have welcomed another blackout in the Toronto region.

 The Maple Leafs defenceman silenced the 19,614 faithful at the Air Canada Centre early in the first period last night on a play that will surely not rank as a career highlight.

  Toronto captain Mats Sundin won the draw in to the left of goaltender Ed Belfour and shovelled the puck back to McCabe, who attempted to take control and pass it up the ice, but instead left it for Philadelphia's Simon Gagne, who promptly deposited it in the back of the net for a 1-0 Flyers lead. The crowd, the Leafs and McCabe were all a bit stunned, to say the least.

 "It was just a fluke thing," McCabe said. "The puck stopped on me. It was a bad break.

 "I was playing with a tennis ball out there," he added with a laugh. "I kind of hung Eddie out to dry. Thank God a lot of guys stepped up and we got a big win."

 As if handing the puck to Gagne on a silver platter wasn't tough enough, McCabe proceeded to get a hooking penalty on the very next play. Fortunately for the Leafs, Philly's John LeClair negated the Flyers power play with a dopey goaltender inference penalty.

 "It was a frustrating shift by all means," McCabe said. "Maybe it was a little overexuberance to start the game."

 The Brothers Grimm couldn't have formulated a happier ending for the rugged defenceman. As the tight-checking game progressed, McCabe continued to have his problems with bad clearing passes.

 But early in the third, with the Leafs fighting desperately to hold a 2-1 lead, McCabe took a pass from Brian Leetch and shot it at the net.

 The shot was tipped by Darcy Tucker and Toronto had its insurance goal.


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