Sharks prey on Leafs

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

On most cold weather nights, it's good to heed that old warning to avoid strangers.

But with the rarely seen San Jose Sharks in town last night, the Maple Leafs kept too much distance and flopped in the opener of a four-game homestand against Western Conference teams.

Untouched Sharks scored four times in the first two periods, erasing a two-goal Toronto lead en route to a 5-4 victory.

It would have been Ed Belfour's milestone 448th National Hockey League goaltending win, but the Leafs can now expect tomorrow's practice to be heavy on coverage drills.

"It had been a problem for us early in the season and hadn't been rearing it's ugly head, but it sure did tonight," coach Pat Quinn said. "I don't know how to classify it. That's one of our (early Christmas) gifts. It's a really disappointing set of circumstances around their goals. You can draw it on the board and have all kinds of system play, but it comes down to doing your job and being in position."

Scott Hannan, Patrick Marleau, ex-Leaf Alyn McCauley and Mark Smith (short-handed breakaway) all scored without a Leaf defender in the camera frame. Mats Sundin did gets pass Swedish countryman Borje Salming on the Leafs' career points list as part of a three-goal surge by Darcy Tucker, Eric Lindros and Matt Stajan.

REPORT CARD

C- Forwards: Let their foot off of the gas pedal way too early and were burned on some key coverage situations.

C- Defence: Small gaffes added up to lots of trouble. Point machines McCabe and Kaberle were blanked.

C- Goaltending: Four goals on the first 10 shots is not a great stat for Ed Belfour, but the Sharks were not touched on any.


Videos

Photos