Leafs young guns are blazing

MIKE ZEISBERGER, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 10:14 AM ET

Since Kyle Wellwood claims he does not own a television, maybe Alexei Ponikarovsky will invite him over to his pad to watch the tube in the coming days.

Once there, they could slap in the tape of last night's 9-2 Maple Leafs humiliation of the New York Rangers, a game which featured career performances of the two young Leafs.

No doubt both players would give this flick two thumbs up, since it would show each of them recording personal-best five point nights en route to leading the Leafs to their third consecutive victory.

"It'll give the family something to talk about at the Christmas dinner table, that's for sure," said Wellwood, who notched his first NHL hat trick and added a pair of assists.

Wellwood recalled having five-point games in the Ontario Hockey League, but said he'd never had a six-point outing dating back to his minor hockey days.

Ponikarovsky, meanwhile, figured he once put up a five-spot down in the American Hockey League. He scored twice, added a pair of assists, and just missed completing his hat trick in the game's waning minutes, settling for a third assist instead.

"It would have been nice (to get the third one), but the important thing is, we won," Ponikarovsky said.

Linemate Mats Sundin chipped in with three assists, making it a 13-point evening for Toronto's top line.

What a difference a week makes.

Just seven days earlier the Leafs dropped a 5-1 decision to the Detroit Red Wings, their seventh consecutive defeat. During that skid, the Leafs managed to squeeze out just nine goals, a significant reason for their losing ways.

Since that time, however, Toronto has posted impressive wins over Tampa Bay, Carolina and the Rangers, scoring 18 goals in the process.

Those numbers are impressive to Wellwood, but not as much as the sacrifice made by teammate Darcy Tucker.

Wellwood stated his admiration for the way Tucker went all out to block a shot with his left hand even though the Leafs had a huge lead.

Tucker, who did not return for the third period, said he hopes to play against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

"The tests didn't show a break but we'll see how it feels in the morning," said Tucker, whose left hand was wrapped with a bandage as he addressed reporters.

Scores 19th of season

Before he was hurt, Tucker scored his team-leading 19th goal of the season. Carlo Colaiacovo, Jeff O'Neill and John Pohl had the other Leafs goals.

"It was nice to get one but I'm just glad to be out there again and playing well," said Colaiacovo, who had not scored an NHL goal since Jan. 14 against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Darius Kasparaitis and Martin Straka scored for the Rangers.

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FOR THE RECORD

Milestones established by the Leafs last night:

- The 13-shots against were the fewest ever allowed by the Leafs on home ice.

- 13 players collected at least one point including all six defencemen.

- Seven players had multi-point games.

- The nine goals scored were the most by the Leafs since a 9-6 win over the Islanders on Dec. 19, 2005.

- The five points by Kyle Wellwood and Alexei Ponikarovsky were the most by a Leaf since Mats Sundin had six versus Florida on April 11, 2006.


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