Belfour honoured for his accomplishments

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

They did it up right for Eddie Belfour last night, in honour of his 448th goaltending win Monday against the Islanders.

They had messages of tribute from Tony Esposito and Vladislav Tretiak. Noneother than Leaf legend Johnny Bower was there to present Belfour with framed scoresheets from his first game and No. 448, which nudged him past the great Terry Sawchuck and into second place all-time.

"I had tears in my eyes," said Belfour. "I was surprised that I couldn't control myself. To hear the kind words from Tony and Vladislav was very special. And Johnny is a real inspitration to me, such a nice man, always with something positive to say."

Ed's wife Ashli and son Dayn were there on the ice with him. And, of course his dog, a Boston Terrier named Sunny.

"She's a great dog," said Belfour. "She always cheers me on. The guys want to put her in the (dressing room) stall next to me."

From that emotional beginning, Belfour had to get his feet planted once again to face the Bruins. He was able to pull it off, stopping almost everything the Bruins threw at him in a 2-1 win.

The unvarnished truth was that this was an ugly hockey game, something of a reality check for the Leafs, who have been recently inconsistent.

"We played a road game at home," said captain Mats Sundin. "Nothing fancy. Sometimes when you're struggling, that's what you've got to do to re-establish your confidence.

"When you go through periods like this, it's easy to lose your confidence and you have to go back to basics to get it back."

Darcy Tucker, who authored Toronto's first goal to tie the score 1-1 on a two-man powerplay agreed.

"We've got to put some streaks together in the win column and to do that, we've got to be better five-on-five," said Tucker. "We just wanted to work. When you lose two, win one, win two, lose one, it's hard to get into that frame of mind where you can beat anybody. We've just got to get back to work.

"When we put that streak of 16 wins together a couple of years ago, we just showed up at the rink and we knew what was gonna happen. We felt it. Sometimes when you lose confidence, the only way to get it back is through hard work."

As far as coach Pat Quinn was concerned, this spartan brand of hockey was what the club needed to get back in a groove.

"We wanted to check better and we did. We thought we'd get some more chances out of that and we did. We didn't finish as well as we'd like to. We wanted to cut down on our mistakes and I think we did that effectively.

"Obviously you want to be solid defensively every night and sort of build your offence from there. We were just good enough to lose (Thursday) and we had to do something that would make a difference."

You have to remember that this was the tail-end of a crucial divisional four-pointer, coming on the heels of Thursday's 4-1 Bruin win in Boston. As pedestrian as it was as far as entertainment goes, it achieved the desired effect. You have to think that this is all relative. Had this game been played two years ago, it would have been simply par for the course. But the game that is being played this year under tighter officiating has been generally faster and more skilful than the clutch and grab brand of hockey of years past.

There was little of the kind of fast-paced end-to-end action we've become accustomed to this season. Indeed, without power plays, there would have been virtually no scoring at all.

The first two goals were scored on two-man advantages. Boston struck first, Sergei Samsonov lighting up Belfour on a sharp-angled laser early in the second period. Later in the same frame, Darcy Tucker returned the favour on a similar play.

In the third period, Bryan McCabe scored the winner just a second or two after the Bruins had killed off the front end of another two man disadvantage.

"We just wanted to play an ugly game," said McCabe.

Mission accomplished.


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