Quinn steamed over gaffes

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

TAMPA -- When it was suggested to Pat Quinn that his team had "salvaged" a single point against the Tampa Bay Lightning last night, the emotional Maple Leafs coach bristled.

"I hate that word," Quinn said, still steamed over his team's 3-2 shootout loss at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"A point is a point, I guess, but I was looking for more."

On a night when there was plenty for Quinn to be satisfied with, he was anything but.

It wasn't enough that his Leafs, fresh off an eight-game losing streak, took three of a possible four points in back-to-back outings in Florida.

WIDENED GAP

It wasn't enough that the single point widened the gap to three from the eighth-place Leafs to the pursuing Montreal Canadiens and Atlanta Thrashers, who both lost their respective games last night.

It wasn't enough that Eddie Belfour had his second consecutive strong showing, stopping 35 Tampa shots.

And it wasn't enough that Toronto welcomed back defenceman Bryan McCabe to the lineup after going 1-7-1 during his nine-game absence with a groin injury.

What riled Quinn was that his two so-called top defencemen, McCabe and Tomas Kaberle, made silly gaffes that led to Tampa's first two goals. If not for those mistakes, the coach figured overtime and the subsequent shootout would not have been an issue.

With the Leafs up 1-0 on a Chad Kilger goal, Kaberle inexplicably fired the puck up the boards with time elapsing in the first period. Cory Sarich was there to intercept it, a play that directly led to the equalizer by Brad Richards with 0.6 seconds left before the intermission.

"It was really a surreal type of thing," Quinn said. "If (Kaberle) just stands there and lets the clock tick down, we're out of there."

After a Darcy Tucker goal put Toronto up 2-1, Ryan Craig tied the game on the power play at 4:11 of the third when McCabe missed a defensive assignment in front of the net.

"(McCabe's) stick wasn't on the ice and it cost us," Quinn said.

Tucker had a couple of great chances in overtime to pull out the victory but was thwarted by Lightning goalie Sean Burke.

It was a harbinger of things to come in the shootout.

While Mats Sundin and Alexei Ponikarovsky could not score in the penalty-shot format, Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards both beat Belfour, who picked a poor time to be jittery for the first time all evening. The Eagle is 2-3 in shootouts, allowing five goals in 12 shots this season.

Overall, the Leafs are 2-4 in the shootout format.

Coming off a rib injury, Tucker has goals in three consecutive games but wasn't in any better mood than his coach.

"In my time in Toronto we have never accepted mediocrity," said Tucker, who upped his team-leading goal total to 21. "We have to be much better."

McCabe logged 29:22 of ice time, registered four shots on goal and was minus-one.

"I felt good out there," he said.

"It was just nice to be back out there with the guys trying to help them win."

Those words served as little consolation for his disappointed coach last night.


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