Size does matter for Leafs linemates

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

BOSTON -- Paul Maurice often has commented how the new rules in the NHL have helped smaller players.

But if you're big and can move a bit, well, watch out.

The top two Maple Leafs forwards in a 6-4 win over the Boston Bruins here last night were 6-foot-6, 230-pound Nik Antropov and 6-foot-4, 220-pound Alexei Ponikarovsky.

Both were a plus-4. Ponikarovsky was named first star with a goal and two assists and Antropov, who has been playing with some jam after returning from an ankle injury, was the third star after scoring twice and adding an assist.

"Those two guys, with their size and their reach and their hands, they are special," Maurice said. "They have learned the game a lot more. They have played so well. Alex is developing into a powerful man on the ice."

The two big men formed a line with Kyle Wellwood, but were on the ice in the final minute with defensive specialist Michael Peca and Toronto holding on to a 5-4 lead. Antropov scored into an empty net Boston with 11 seconds remaining.

"I feel good," Antropov said. "With the new NHL, (opponents) can't do anything because of my size and it's an advantage. The most important thing is we got two points."

Not all the Leafs were great in last night's contest.

The statistical line on winger Alexander Suglobov, who usually is a healthy scratch, was harsh. The winger played two minutes and 21 seconds in four shifts and was a minus-2.

Suglobov was inserted into the lineup on the fourth line, replacing Wade Belak who was moved back to defence to fill in for absent defenceman Pavel Kubina.

And Jean-Sebastien Aubin -- who will be backed up by one of Mikael Tellqvist, Justin Pogge or J.F. Racine if Andrew Raycroft is out longer than expected with his strained groin -- was not overly thrilled with his five-save performance.


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