Breather for McCabe

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

Darcy Tucker hasn't been the only Leaf trying to play through injury this season.

Now defenceman Bryan McCabe is taking time off to rest a groin strain, beginning with last night's game in Pittsburgh and possibly continuing through tomorrow night's match in Manhattan.

"I've been playing through some stuff since the start of the year," McCabe said after yesterday's dryland workout at Mellon Arena. "It was getting worse and at some point, you pull the plug. I'm day to day."

How much of a factor the injury has been in his slow start to the season (four points in 10 games and a minus-six) is unknown, but McCabe said "your groin is everything (skating, shooting, hitting)."

Tucker (right knee ligament problems) is also on the trip, doing off-ice workouts. Centre Kyle Wellwood, who is recovering from a second hernia surgery, is in Toronto with the club's power skating instructor and is a possibility for games late next week. Defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo (sore knee) also remained home for dryland training.

FINISHING TOUCH

Coach Paul Maurice was asked the obvious yesterday, why couldn't his Leafs bottle that three minute burst from the end of regulation against the Atlanta Thrashers and apply it now and then in one of those one-goal losses they've absorbed? The relentless attack pinned the Thrashers and led to Alexei Ponikarovsky's tying goal with seconds to play.

"That's happening around the NHL today," Maurice said. "We've given up leads as everyone has talked about, but we also came back against Atlanta, Florida and Montreal.

"You just get to a part of the game when a team plays without fear against one that's just playing not to make a mistake, just to bang the puck off the glass and get it out."

LOOSE LEAFS

Tony Salmelainen has surfaced with the Russian team Yaroslavl Lokomotiv. He was suspended by the Leafs after leaving the Marlies last week to return to Finland ... Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien has been keeping an eye on fellow Quebecois Simon Gamache, whom he once coached against in the AHL. "He's a little guy, who played in the AHL, went to Europe, fought for his chance in the NHL and here he is," Therrien said. "He's a good story."

PENNSYLVANIAPOLKA

One of the best parts of the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia ressurgence has been their renewed divisional battle.

"It's just a good inter-state rivalry," said ex-Pen turned broadcaster Bob Errey.

"At one time, we hadn't won in about 16 years at the Spectrum, going back to the Broad St. Bullies' days. One radio station sent a voodoo priest with beads and the whole thing to Philly to lift the curse."


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