13 + 88 = ?

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

The Air Canada Centre patrons likely were too busy booing the Maple Leafs last night to notice one of coach Pat Quinn's most significant line changes of the season.

After going almost three months resisting the temptation, Quinn paired top two centres Mats Sundin and Eric Lindros on an even-strength combo with Alex Steen on right wing. Sundin and Lindros have combined to produce 1,932 National Hockey League points.

Granted, it was part of a general shakeup of the forwards during a flat 5-1 loss to the Boston Bruins and it lasted just a few shifts in the third period. But it was noteworthy nonetheless and underlined Jeff O'Neill's lack of production at even strength with Sundin and Steen. O'Neill, whose 18 points are mostly power-play creations, ended the game in a lesser role with Tie Domi and Chad Kilger, as well as a team-worst minus-11.

Sundin refused to read anything into the switch.

"When we're down 4-1, Pat's obviously trying to spark the team," he said. "But all four lines were different at that point. Who knows what the lines will be after this? All four lines have to be better after (this game)."

The one move that paid immediate dividends was Darcy Tucker joining Kyle Wellwood and Matt Stajan. They linked up for Toronto's only goal on Boston goaltender Andrew Raycroft.

"It was a little too late," Stajan said. "But we tried to just generate something and carry it into (our next game)."

Surviving the shuffle intact were Jason Allison between Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky, all three familiar with seeing their names in trade speculation, but each minus two last evening.

Sundin was very disappointed that the Leafs had not followed through on a pre-game plan to keep the slumping Bruins from getting any kind of life.

"We talked before that we hadn't played in a few days, that Boston is a desperate team and that the first five or 10 minutes would be important," Sundin said. "But they were still able to capitalize on some early goals. After that, it was a struggle for us. We were very lacklustre."

Boston's Glen Murray struck twice on the power play in 8:16 as the Bruins won on the road for the first time since Oct. 13 and for only the second time in 11 Northeast Division games this year.


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