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TERRY KOSHAN, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

Perhaps it was just a slip of the tongue, but there was no mistaking Mats Sundin's disgust last night.

After the Maple Leafs' worst home loss of the season -- a 6-1 non-nailbiter to the Vancouver Canucks, one of the weakest offensive clubs in the National Hockey League -- the Leafs captain was asked about the jeers aimed at goalie Andrew Raycroft in the closing minutes.

"It is heartbreaking," Sundin said. "For a guy who plays his heart out and has, in my opinion, had a f-----g pretty solid first half of the season..."

Hearing Sundin swear, especially in front of a bank of microphones, was shocking, but it summed up the Leafs' evening. That the Leafs were defeated by five goals for the first time in 2006-07 on home ice was bad; that it happened in front of the largest crowd, 19,608, to watch a Leafs game in Toronto, (including 100 members of the Canadian Forces) was worse.

Two of the Canucks' first four shots beat Raycroft. The 26-year-old, who has made people remember Ed Belfour and Curtis Joseph, stopped 15 shots.

About the game-ending jeers, Raycroft was cool.

"Everyone up there was cheering for Vancouver anyway," Raycroft said. "Most of the Leafs fans had gone home except for the diehards who paid $500 for their seats. They paid good money and if they want to boo me, that's fine. Whether it was 2-1 or 6-1, it's a loss and we need the points."

Sundin and coach Paul Maurice -- who was not concerned about the verbal treatment given Raycroft -- were happy with the Leafs' play at even-strength.

But those thoughts rang hollow, considering the Leafs' effort in other areas. The Canucks entered the game with 109 goals, fewer than 26 NHL teams, but scored a season-high five on the power play. The five given up by the Leafs while short-handed tied their season-high.

"Their power play was better than ours, their penalty killing was better than ours, their goaltending was better," Maurice said. "That's the game."

Bates Battaglia scored for Toronto, which did not build off a win in Buffalo two nights earlier. Mattias Ohlund, Daniel Sedin, Trevor Linden, Taylor Pyatt, Sami Salo and Markus Naslund scored for Vancouver.

None of the injured Leafs returned, but Maurice expects Alexei Ponikarovsky (shoulder) to play Tuesday in Tampa. Darcy Tucker (foot) and Nik Antropov (ankle) could play Thursday in Florida.

Roberto Luongo made 35 saves and was sharp early and often, making big stops in the first period on Travis Green and Alex Steen. In the third, Luongo, who will start for the Western Conference in the all-star game on Jan. 24, snared a Sundin blast.

The Leafs, 10-12-3 at the ACC, maintain they play a simpler game on the road. Of their next nine games, the Leafs play eight away, including a three-game set this week with stops in Tampa Bay, Florida and Pittsburgh. Toronto is 10-8-3 in games away from the ACC in 2006-07.

"It is frustrating to lose like that on home ice, it is embarrassing," Sundin said. "We are under .500 at home and we are not going to make the playoffs playing that way at home."

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REPORT CARD

D Forwards: The intensity to a man could have and should have been much better.

D Defence: The effort was not bad and a little help from the forwards would certainly have helped.

F Goaltending: Andrew Raycroft did not provide the kind of goaltending that a team hoping to make the playoffs requires.


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