Leafs turn in stinker

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Ed Befour kneels following the Boston Bruins' fourth goal by Shawn...

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Ed Befour kneels following the Boston Bruins' fourth goal by Shawn McEachern Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2005. (Toronto Sun/Ernest Doroszuk)

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

In honour of Eric Lindros' 700th career NHL game, the Maple Leafs went out and made 700 errors against the Boston Bruins last night.

Okay, so that might be an exaggeration. The actual number was closer to 600. That's about how bad the Leafs were, watching a four-game winning streak go down the tubes with a stinking 5-1 loss to the Bruins before a stunned crowd of 19,403 at the Air Canada Centre.

The Bruins, who had lost six in a row, stumbled out of hibernation after being publicly berated by owner Jeremy Jacobs earlier this week. But the Leafs helped.

The Leafs had not played since beating the Atlanta Thrashers last Saturday and spent the past couple of days discussing how they had stopped taking stupid penalties mainly because they had improved their positioning. Then the puck dropped, and all that talk amounted to hot air.

Glen Murray scored a pair of power-play goals in the first 10 minutes. Patrice Bergeron and Shawn McEachern scored in the second period. Sergei Samsonov, after a nice pass from Brad Boyes, scored in the third.

Chad Kilger was called for hooking at 1:15 of the first. At 3:03, Murray scored. Alexander Khavanov was called for hooking at 7:53 of the first. At 8:16, Murray scored. Perhaps Murray would have kept scoring, but he suffered a mild groin strain in the middle period and did not return.

And it was not just the penalties, which generally don't occur if positioning is sound. The Leafs did not register a shot until 7:34 of the first, when the Bruins had 11. Confusion reigned for the most part, and made itself clear when Bryan McCabe passed off to Mats Sundin and immediately smacked into Alexei Ponikarovsky.

The Leafs entered the game with the most successful power play in the league but had little going last night. But boy, they sure looked good passing the puck around.

How did the Leafs respond in the second period to a putrid display in the first period, when they were outshot 18-4? With the same amount of jump they had in the first, which was none. Bergeron made it 3-0 lead at 4:21 on a play that probably made Ed Belfour wish he had called in sick.

The goalie skated straight out of his net to play a Bruins dump-in, but the puck wouldn't lay flat and Belfour flubbed it horribly. After providing a quick how-not-to study in puckhandling, Belfour watched as the Bruins picked up the loose puck and it was deposited into the net by Bergeron.

Less than two minutes later, it was 4-0 when McEachern gathered the puck in the neutral zone (past a falling Aki Berg, who had pinched) and beat Belfour.

Leafs coach Pat Quinn juggled his lines during the game and found a productive one in Kyle Wellwood, Matt Stajan and Darcy Tucker. The latter broke Andrew Raycroft's shutout bid early in the third. Stajan assisted for his first point in nine games. Lindros, meanwhile, wound up on the wing with Sundin and Alex Steen. Jeff O'Neill was with Tie Domi and Kilger.


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