Leafs bounce back

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:20 AM ET

No, Darcy Tucker and Andrew Raycroft did not attempt to jump off the Burlington Skyway on their way home from Buffalo in the wee hours yesterday morning.

Good thing, too.

Sure, the bus ride back to Toronto following the Maple Leafs' crushing 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres was, according to most players, one of the "quietest" they had ever been on. Blowing a three-goal lead in the final period will have that effect on a team.

Rather than sulk, however, Tucker and Raycroft rebounded with stellar performances last night that helped the Leafs maintain their sliver of hope to land a playoff berth.

Tucker, who continues to pursue his first career hat trick, registered his 15th two-goal game while Raycroft turned aside all but one of Buffalo's 20 shots.

"(Friday) was a good learning experience for us," Tucker said after the Leafs' 4-1 victory over the Sabres in the back end of their home-and-home series last night. "I wouldn't say our confidence was shaken but the bus ride home wasn't a lot of fun.

"I do think our (regrouping) started on the bus ride home. We just wanted to come out and play the way we did in the first two periods (Friday) when I thought we carried the play."

Raycroft, who, as usual, was made the scapegoat by many critics after allowing four Buffalo goals in the third period Friday, was the game's third star, turning aside all but one of the Sabres' 20 shots.

"It's been going on for the past six or seven months so I'm used to it," Raycroft said about being slagged. "I realize I'm going to be the lightning rod. I'll get credit when we win and criticism when we lose."

Just down the hallway, Ryan Miller was in a less jovial mood. Yanked after the Leafs' third goal, he wondered about the onslaught of rubber he had been forced to face from the Leafs in the past two games.

"If we want to be the big bad team we think we are, we're going to have to show a little more effort, that's for sure," Miller said.

After watching his stud goalie face 65 Leafs shots in just eighty three minutes and 34 seconds over two nights, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff pulled Miller for his own safety.

"I didn't like the way the game was going," Ruff said.

"It had nothing to do with Ryan."


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