MONTREAL -- Paul Maurice smelled something fishy last night and it wasn't coming from the Bell Centre concession stands.
The Maple Leafs coach was not at all pleased with the scraping job done by the Montreal Canadiens arena staff prior to the shootout and practically accused the Habs of using nefarious tactics.
Maurice could be shown frantically waving at referees Gord Dwyer and Kelly Sutherland in order to inform them of his suspicions, but his pleas apparently fell on deaf ears.
Maurice felt the patch of ice cleared from the centre ice dot to the net for the shootout was far narrower in the end at which the Leafs were shooting than the one that led to Toronto goalie Andrew Raycroft. In other words, the Canadiens allegedly had more clean ice upon which to skate, giving the hosts a distinct advantage in the mind of the Leafs bench boss.
"I asked (the officials) to bring the Zamboni out again," Maurice said after the Leafs' 4-3 shootout loss.
"Check the tape and see for yourself," he said, claiming this was much more than just a conspiracy theory.
Maurice felt there also was similar hanky panky going on during the Leafs' first visit to Montreal this season, a 5-4 shootout victory in favour of Toronto Oct. 28.
On that night, Maurice recalled, the Bell Centre staff cleared the ice in the shape "of a teardrop" toward the end at which the Leafs were shooting.
At least his team won that game. Last night was a different story.
After Saku Koivu and Mats Sundin had each scored for their respective teams in the shootout, Sheldon Souray notched the winner. Known for his explosive slap shot, Souray faked one, then deked around Raycroft.
"I thought he might do something ridiculous and unleash a bomb," Raycroft said. "I should have kept my feet moving more.
Said Souray, "I would have taken the shot but he played it well."
The Leafs are 2-4 in shootouts this season and 5-11 overall.