Toskala left shell-shocked

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Vesa Toskala wandered on to a firing range last night.

When the shooting stopped, 52 pucks in all, the Maple Leafs' new goaltender had his skin, but few wits about him in giving up five goals to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 6-4 loss.

In what is becoming a dangerous repitition when Toskala starts, the Leafs team defence drops its shield and takes too many penalties. Combined with Tuesday's 7-1 loss to Carolina, he has been torched for 12 goals in two games on 91 shots. Pittsburgh's barrage --only defenceman Rob Scuderi failed to get at least one shot -- was one shy of the most on the Leafs in two years. That game, a 5-4 win over Boston, went to overtime and a shootout with Ed Belfour in goal.

"What do you say to the kid after that?," asked Leafs' exasperated coach Paul Maurice.

Sorry doesn't cut it, though Toskala and the Leafs deserve credit for holding the fort through the first six Pens' advantages. With seven minutes to play, Darcy Tucker was nailed for knocking a bouncing puck over the glass and Sidney Crosby supplied the winner.

"It just hit the shaft of my stick and took off like a nine iron," Tucker said.

Toskala said he hadn't seen that many shots in a game since he played for San Jose's farm team in Cleveland.

"They have team speed and they're good in the corners," Toskala said of the Pens.

Crosby scored twice, but Toskala held his praise of The Kid, noting the first was a cross-ice pass that hit Toronto defenceman Pavel Kubina and the other an empty netter after a Darryl Sydor shot squeezed through his pads.

Dany Sabourin, Toskala's starting opponent last night, was in for just 15 minutes. He suffered a cut to the back of his head when Tucker was shoved into him by Pittsburgh defenceman Brooks Orpik. No. 1 Marc Andre Fleury took over for the win.

Orpik was later taken out with a mild concussion after running into Simon Gamache's high stick while trying to rub out the little Leaf.

After the debacle against Carolina, Maurice pulled Toskala for Andrew Raycroft, who had an easy night in Thursday's 8-1 thrashing of the Islanders. But who starts tomorrow's tough test in Buffalo won't be known for another day.


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