White, Gill lead Leafs to victory

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:57 PM ET

TAMPA -- When Hal Gill can't locate one of his shirts in a hotel-room closet, it's a good bet he won't point an accusing finger at Ian White for taking it.

Not unless the diminutive White plans on using it as a tent.

In one of the more unique defensive pairings seen around the NHL the past few season, the towering 6-foot-7 Gill and the compact 5-foot-10 White are roommates on the road and partners on the ice.

When they stand next to each other on the blue line during the national anthem, it's like looking at Shaquille O'Neal and Sandy Hawley standing next to each other.

Of course, Leafs coach Paul Maurice does not care how they look.

Only how they play.

And last night, this dynamic defensive duo proved to be the spark in a furious third-period rally that saw the Leafs eclipse a 2-1 deficit en route to a 4-2 victory over the host Tampa Bay Lightning in front of 19,997 fans at the St. Pete Times Forum.

With the Lightning nursing a one-goal lead, Gill's seeing-eye point shot appeared to glance off Lightning defenceman Nolan Pratt into the net for the game-tying goal just 1:51 into the third period.

Ten minutes later, with the Leafs on the power play, White slid in from the point and snapped a shot past goalie Marc Denis for the game-winner, giving the visitors a season-high three-game winning streak.

They may not share the same shoe size, but they certainly shared the role as heroes.

"Being roommates, it's neat we both chipped in on the same night and help the team with a win," said White, who registered his second career goal.

White, 22, is an offensively gifted player who can squirt up the ice in the blink of the eye. Gill, 31, is the plodding stay-at-home veteran whose wingspan must appear to take up half the ice in the minds of oncoming forwards.

"I think it works perfectly," White said.

"We're a tandem back there."

White may be on the smaller side but, as Maurice says, you can't measure heart.

Maurice was also cooing about his behemoth blue liner after the victory.

"I said after the last game and I'll say it again: Hal Gill is a fantastic player," Maurice said.


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