Tellqvist says he's up to the task

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

Mikael Tellqvist's Sunday morning sermon rang true.

Asked about the bad timing of his first long run as the Maple Leafs' starting goalie with the team in its worst funk under coach Pat Quinn, Tellqvist warned against the evils of self-pity.

"I'm just going to have to do it myself," he said before facing the Pittsburgh Penguins. "I have to stay focused on doing my thing and not worry about what everyone else is doing. You can see there are a few other teams that aren't playing very well, such as Pittsburgh, but Marc-Andre Fleury is playing really well now.

"I have to step it up and play well."

Tellqvist was as good as his word, stopping 21 shots, including a late Sidney Crosby breakaway, as the Leafs somehow overcame their foibles against the last-place Pens to win 1-0.

Though Luke Richardson has upgraded the club's team defence, the ongoing inconsistencies of the five other blueliners and lack of overall team speed are giving Tellqvist the same headaches as the injured Ed Belfour.

When the National Hockey League's higher echelon clubs put pressure on the Leafs --such as Buffalo and New York did during Toronto's recent road losses -- trouble usually follows.

In 11 games up to Sunday, Belfour and Tellqvist had been burned for an average of 3.7 goals per game, though eight of those matches included at least one power-play goal against.

"The defence plays as the goalie plays, and the goalie plays as the defence goes," Tellqvist said.

With Belfour's return from back woes still up in the air, Tellqvist makes his sixth consecutive start tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes, another explosive club bound to give the Leafs some fits.


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