Auld almost perfect

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

Until Ed Belfour finds his power switch, the Florida Panthers are using a double-A battery.

Alex Auld came back to his home province last night and made 48 saves, fading only on shootout goals by Mats Sundin and Darcy Tucker in a 2-1 Maple Leafs' victory.

Auld now has taken three of a possible four points for his new team, while ex-Leaf Belfour, blown out in his only start on Saturday night, was not utilized last evening.

Auld had all the accolades from teammates, the Leafs and a nice hand from the crowd as first star, but ended the night chopping his stick into kindling when Sundin beat him high and Tucker went five-hole with a backhand.

"It's mostly frustrating because you know what Sundin will do in every shootout," Auld said. "I even talked about it with Eddie the morning after he scored against Montreal."

Auld, who had made 47 stops in regulation and stopped leadoff shooter Jeff O'Neill, had not seen many backhands on the evening until Tucker's game winner.

"Tucker made a nice move, faked like he was going to go wide and got me to open my legs," the Thunder Bay native said. "It's hard to close them after that."

The Panthers lost the game and suffered two significant injuries early in the evening. Starting forward Rostislav Olesz departed with a lower left leg injury and ex-Leaf Joe Nieuwendyk with a lower back muscle strain. Both will be re-evaluated today when the club returns home.

Coach Jacques Martin tried to play down the significance of Belfour's projected understudy outplaying him thus far.

"I know what Eddie is capable of," Martin insisted. "I've said from the start we have two No.1's here. There has been good communication with Eddie (about the rotation)."


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