Leafs take dim view

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Talk about a bad night on the Telly.

At one end of the RBC Center, the Maple Leafs were denied an overtime winning goal, even though they believe television replays backed up their contention. At the other end, Mikael Tellqvist failed in his first NHL shootout exam.

It added up to a 4-3 Carolina Hurricanes victory, but Toronto was angry at letting the point escape.

"The puck was in -- twice," claimed Leafs' coach Pat Quinn, after an Alex Steen shot rang off the inside of the post and the ensuing scramble saw the puck go in -- after the whistle. "It was clearly a bad call. Apparently, the answer was the whistle had gone, but the red light came on before the whistle."

The Leafs played from behind all night, taking too many penalties and leaving Tellqvist out to dry. Until last night, he had not lost the past two years when taking over for Ed Belfour or Trevor Kidd after a loss (4-0-1). But though he made an amazing stop on Erik Cole in the third period, he was beaten on Carolina's two shootout attempts by Radim Vrbata and Matt Cullen.

"I've got to learn to be more patient," Tellqvist said. "But we'll take the point and hope we get two (tonight) against Montreal."

Jeff O'Neill and Mats Sundin were stopped by Martin Gerber in the shootout, Toronto's third loss in four brushes with the new tie-breaking format.

Chad Kilger forced overtime at 11:23 of the third, burying a quick faceoff win by Eric Lindros. Earlier in the period, Kilger had put a perfect feed from Lindros into the netting above the glass

The Hurricanes, trying to reverse a three-game losing streak that has threatened their Southeast Division lead to the rebounding Tampa Bay Lightning, swarmed the Leafs in the first period and set the tone. They were buoyed by the return of injured veterans Rod Brind'Amour and Glen Wesley.

Toronto took two penalties in the first six minutes, breaking their vow to be disciplined after the Bruins lit them up for two early power-play goals on Wednesday. Bret Hedican made them pay with his second goal of the season at 4:40, a point shot that appeared to glance off a Leaf.

"We have to be a mentally tougher team, with all those penalties called against us," Quinn said. "The minors take everyone out of the game and we can't have it."

But the Leafs rallied with a a power-play goal by O'Neill, joining Lindros on Toronto's 10-goal club. Eight of O'Neill's goals have come on the power play.

Tomas Kaberle opened the second period with a bonehead play, coughing the puck up to Carolina's leading scorer Eric Staal for a short-handed breakaway goal.

The Leafs tied it briefly when Jason Allison scored, thanks to a neat play by Tie Domi, who took a page from Mario Lemieux's book and let a Kaberle pass go through his legs to Allison.

But rookie winger Andrew Ladd restored the lead on the power play.


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