Oh baby, Tucker's hot

LANCE HORNBY and JACK BOLAND -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:42 AM ET

The biggest influence on Darcy Tucker's scoring streak might not be linemates Mats Sundin and Alex Steen, but nine-day-old son, Cain.

"Since my son was born, I've scored four goals (in three games)," Tucker said with a wink on Saturday night after bagging his team-leading 12th against the San Jose Sharks.

"Maybe it's a little bit to do with him. We (he and wife Shannon) will start spitting kids out one after another if that's the case."

Tucker had 21 goals in 2003-04 and his career high is 24.

HOME STICKING

Sundin said the Leafs need to get some time at home after a gruelling schedule of seven games in 11 nights.

"You can tell (Saturday night) we had a really good first half of the game and then we had a terrible second half," Sundin said. "It ended up costing us two points. So you don't want to leave points like that on the table. We did play seven games in 11 nights and that is extremely tough. And I think that was in our legs (Saturday)."

The Leafs play the Kings tomorrow, then get a three-day break before matching up against the Dallas Stars on Saturday.

"It's a stage of the season that you mark because you need to get your practices in," coach Pat Quinn said. "It's also a time of injuries because of tired minds. Our team has played relatively well during this stretch, not as good as we've liked, but we have another tough stretch later this month to get ready for."

SECRET AGENT KHAVANOV

During this four-game run against Western Conference clubs, the Leafs might be turning to defenceman Alexander Khavanov for advice. The four-year veteran of the St. Louis Blues has the most up-to-date experience against the Sharks, Kings, Stars and Ducks.

"That's a good question for the coaches," Khavanov said with a laugh when asked if he'll give a guest lecture this week. "But I don't think I know these teams better than anyone else. If it was St. Louis, that would be a different story.

"I'd say the West teams used to be more tactical , more system-based. To play well against Colorado, Detroit and Vancouver, you had to be pretty disciplined and stick to your game plan more."


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