Quinn stays high on Eagle

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

The Eagle is soaring again.

Ed Belfour's 36 saves on Saturday night against the New Jersey Devils, and his first-star status as fans at a sold-out Air Canada Centre chanted his name, gave him two wins and a shootout loss in his past four games.

"That was Eddie at his best," coach Pat Quinn said of the 4-2 win. "He was mentally tough and allowed us to get away with a couple of points."

Quinn had used Mikael Tellqvist a week earlier against Montreal at home, trying something different to arrest a seven-game losing streak. Tellqvist lost in OT, but Quinn was not about to abandon his mesh meal ticket of the previous two seasons.

As for the future? "I don't know where we're going in the next three games this week," Quinn said, "but I'm glad I did what I did and maybe it's a good step for all of us."

Expect Tellqvist to get one of the back-to-back games against the New York Rangers, perhaps against Henrik Lundqvist in a pre-Olympic battle of Sweden's starter and backup.

PONY UP FOR POINTS

The Leafs' game against the Thrashers tomorrow falls on the 30th anniversary of Darryl Sittler's record 10-point night against goalie Dave Reece and the Boston Bruins.

Sittler was at the ACC on Saturday and for a few minutes, it looked like Alexei Ponikarovsky might have a shot at his single-game mark. Ponikarovsky scored at the 33 second mark, at 11:12 and hit the post trying to become the first Leaf in 10 years since Wendel Clark to get a hat trick in one period -- against projected Team Canada starter Martin Brodeur, no less.

"I've never had a hat trick in the NHL, but it didn't work for me," Ponikarovsky said with a smile. "We're the first line out there (Nik Antropov, Jason Allison and himself) and we have to set the tone."

LOOSE LEAFS

Toronto is now 9-2-0-1 in the second of back-to-back games ... Quinn will coach his 547th game with the Leafs tomorrow, moving him past Hap Day and into second place behind mentor Punch Imlach's 760 ... Mats Sundin was blanked by the Devils and has been held to just 29 points in 45 games versus New Jersey. That's his lowest output against any team the Leafs captain has faced more than 40 times.


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