Leafs get reality check

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

NEW YORK -- The Maple Leafs' days of domination on Broadway are coming to an end.

The post-lockout New York Rangers, powered by National Hockey League-leading scorer Jaromir Jagr and eight others with tickets for Turin, are for real as the Leafs found out last night in a 4-2 defeat at Madison Square Garden.

The Leafs were trying for their first three-game winning streak since early January, but instead need to beat New York in the rematch in Toronto tonight to maintain eighth place in the Eastern Conference through the Olympic break.

"We have to win the majority of our games now, not win one, lose one," forward Chad Kilger said.

"We got the matchups we wanted against (Jagr's line), but we have to stay out of the box (the green light to three Rangers power-play goals)."

Toronto had won four of the past six at MSG as part of a tradition of offensive fireworks. Games between these two clubs here have averaged eight combined goals since 2001-02. This time, the Leafs had just 21 shots and Jagr and the Rangers had all the fun.

How hard was it to watch? Life-long Leafs fan Mike Myers cringed when the in-house camera caught him pulling his sweater over his head.

The other vision-related story saw Leafs captain Mats Sundin shun his visor for the first time suffering a near-serious eye injury in October.

"It (the visor) actually hurt me the other night (when he was bodychecked to the ice against Atlanta)," Sundin said. "I'll try it again (tonight) before deciding (to drop it in Turin)."

Two one-goal leads disappeared in a hail of Ranger power-play goals while Henrik Lundqvist out-dueled Ed Belfour. Jagr warmed up for Turin with two goals and an assist, giving him 48 points in 34 career games against Toronto. He also passed Mike Bossy for 16th on the league's goal list with 574.

"He is doing the same things he has always done," Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. "But there must be about 573 other goalies that couldn't stop him, either."

The Rangers, who stuffed the Ottawa Senators here on Wednesday, were 4-for-4 killing Leafs power plays and are on a streak of 19 kills in a row heading into tonight.

The Leafs, who beat the Rangers in Toronto earlier this year and were 8-1 against the Atlantic Division, started by covering the dangerous New York forwards. Belfour made the requisite saves and the home crowd was getting restless.

But some questionable penalties against the Leafs quickly added up. Jagr went under Belfour's arm with Alex Steen in the box for an accidental high stick and after Darcy Tucker roared right back to score 48 seconds later, Jagr went high slot through the goalie's legs on another advantage.

Quinn restored Jeff O'Neill to the lineup after a two-game benching, on a line with Wellwood and Kilger. Moving to the press box was winger Mariusz Czerkawski.

"Very frustrating," Czerkawski said, having mentioned a few times that he is eyeing a trade request if things don't change by next month. "You thought (Quinn) might continue (with him in) because we'd won (the past two games)."

REPORT CARD

C- Forwards: Just a step behind the home team, especially on the power play. Nik Antropov missed some great chances and the Rangers defence had more grit.

C- Defence: Few style points and no points on the scoreboard, though covering Jaromir Jagr is a handful these days.

C- Goaltending: Ed Belfour could not sustain his strong start, but those in front of him could not stay out of the box.


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