Belfour nets historic win

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Ed Belfour is not about to suggest that history will repeat itself.

But when it was pointed out that the previous goalie to win a Stanley Cup while wearing Maple Leafs blue and white was the late, great Terry Sawchuk, the Eagle scratched his scruffy black beard before breaking into a huge grin.

He had reason to smile.

Belfour tied Sawchuk for second place on the NHL career victories list at 447 after leading the Leafs to a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers.

While Belfour would love to become the first Toronto netminder to hoist Lord Stanley's coveted mug since Sawchuk accomplished the feat back in 1967, he's not booking Bay St. for a June parade quite yet.

"It's just unbelievable to be in the same ball park as he is," an upbeat Belfour said of Sawchuk. "I just wish he was alive so I could meet him."

About six years ago, Belfour had the chance to leaf through Sawchuk's biography. By the time he was finished, his respect for the NHL's career shutouts leader (with 103) had grown.

"He was a fierce competitor, an acrobatic guy and a very courageous guy when you consider he played most of his career without a mask," Belfour said.

When a reporter joked that he needed just 104 more wins to catch leader Patrick Roy, Belfour nodded.

"We'll just take it one game at a time and see what happens," he said.

The Panthers outshot the visitors 35-26 in front of an announced crowd of 11,215.

Belfour's best save of the night came with less than six minutes to go. Sprawling across the crease on his belly, he was able to rob former teammate Gary Roberts to maintain a one-goal lead.

"This win should have an asterisk beside it to acknowledge the way Eddie played," said Leafs coach Pat Quinn, who at age 18 was fortunate enough to attend the same training camp as Sawchuk with the Detroit Red Wings.

"It's pretty elite company for Ed."

Darcy Tucker, who missed the Leafs' victory on Saturday over Montreal while his wife was giving birth to a baby boy, opened the scoring for the Leafs midway through the second period.

After Stephen Weiss knotted the score just before intermission, Bryan McCabe scored the winner with the Leafs enjoying a two-man advantage at 10:18 of the third. Roberts was one of the Panthers in the penalty box at the time.

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THE PUCKS STOP HERE

The top five winningest goaltenders in NHL history:

Patrick Roy 551

Ed Belfour 447

Terry Sawchuk 447

Jacques Plante 435

Tony Esposito 423


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