Eddie saves the day

MIKE ZEISBERGER --

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

As 19,383 euphoric fans at the Air Canada Centre stood and chanted his name, Ed Belfour saved the day for the Maple Leafs one more time.

Where he found the energy, only the Eagle himself knows.

Maybe it was the crowd support that kept the knees of the exhausted Maple Leafs goaltender from buckling.

Maybe it was the fact that he had come up on the short end of Toronto's two previous shootouts, losing both to Dominik Hasek and the Ottawa Senators.

Whatever the case, Belfour was not about to be denied as he prepared to face the Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron, Boston's third skater in the dramatic shootout.

Having been pelted by 53 Boston Bruins shots during regulation and overtime, a sprawling Belfour denied Bergeron's attempt, thereby preserving the Leafs' 5-4 victory.

"You've just got to try and react to what they are doing," said Belfour, who kept Joe Thornton and Glen Murray off the shootout scoresheet, too. "Hopefully, you're quicker to the post or on a shot."

Belfour's efforts almost singlehandedly stole two points for the Leafs, although Eric Lindros did chip in with the shootout goal that proved to be the game-winner. The Big E completed a nifty deke on Bruins goaltender Andrew Raycroft by flicking the puck high into the back of the net.

"I went in, made a move and hoped it went in," Lindros said. "(In that situation) you just have to settle things down in your mind.

"Put this one in the lucky column and take it from there."

Lindros was quick to praise Belfour.

"Eddie was phenomenal," Lindros said. "His mental toughness to stay with it and keep things going meant a lot to us."

Given all this warm and fuzzy talk about the Eagle, it's tough to believe he almost was the goat in this one.

Having already surrendered a couple of questionable goals earlier, Belfour's brain drain early in the third period led to what looked to be the game-winner.

One of the best stickhandlers among NHL goaltenders, Belfour was about to play the puck toward the corner when he realized it was in the area where he would be penalized if he touched it.

Caught out of position, Belfour was helpless as former Leaf Brad Boyes needed just two whacks to poke home the go-ahead tally, giving the Bruins a 4-3 lead.

Luckily for Belfour, Alexei Ponikarovsky's shorthanded goal late in the third tied the game 4-4 and set the stage for the late dramatics.

Asked if he would have been better off touching the puck and taking the penalty,Belfour shrugged.

"I thought about it," he said. "It's frustrating. It's a new rule. I've just got to deal with it."

What a number of his teammates might have to deal with is a shakeup threatened by a perturbed Pat Quinn. The Maple Leafs coach is ready to shuffle the deck after witnessing yet another porous defensive performance, both by his defencemen and forwards.

Tie Domi, Bryan McCabe and Alexei Khavanov, with his first as a Leaf, had the other Toronto goals, while Patrick Leahy, Ian Moran and Murray also scored for Boston.


Videos

Photos