Backup battle all even

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

Two games later, and Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice can't be any closer to a decision on his backup goaltender than he might have been four days ago.

Just 48 hours after Mikael Tellqvist stoned the Ottawa Senators and earned first-star honours, Jean-Sebastien Aubin stepped into the crease last night and was named first star with a 22-save performance against the Montreal Canadiens.

"I don't think they will base their decision on just two games (that both Tellqvist and Aubin are likely to play in the pre-season)," Aubin said. "I think they know us pretty well from last year and it will all go together at the end (of camp). They're not going to just flip a coin."

Demonstrating the kind of coolness that helped allow him win nine of 11 games down the stretch last season when Ed Belfour was hurt, Aubin gave the Leafs a backbone in the first minute last night. On the first shift, he kicked out his right leg to make a sharp save on a deflection. Less than four minutes later, the Leafs had a 2-0 lead and wound up winning the pre-season match 5-1.

That's the kind of momentum-changing ability the Leafs would like to see in their backup goaltending throughout the season, whether it is being supplied by Aubin or Tellqvist in relief of Andrew Raycroft.

Maurice is impressed by how Tellqvist and Aubin have buckled down.

"In most exhibition games, you have five guys who absolutely feel the pressure (because they are trying to earn a job)," Maurice said. "These are real pressure games for them. Tellqvist carried the full weight of importance into a game and so did Aubin. The evaluations on character are legitimate because of the pressure these guys feel. I am very pleased they have both been able to handle it. They have done a nice job."

Aubin is glad he and Tellqvist are getting a chance to play complete games. Often at this time of year, no matter how he might be performing, a goalie gets the hook midway through the match so a colleague can play. In reality, that does not happen.

"You get into game shape faster," Aubin said. "Sometimes when you play a half-game, you just don't get the feel for it. When you play a full game, you get everything, the good and bad bounces, and I like it."


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