No explaining poor shootout showings

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

The Leafs are at a loss to explain their losses in shootouts, a record of 7-17 since the advent of the NHL tiebreaker in 2004-05. They are 0-3 this season, after a five-round exercise in frustration against Montreal on Tuesday.

Though Mats Sundin scored, Nik Antropov, Kyle Wellwood, Darcy Tucker and Jason Blake were stopped by Carey Price. Antropov claimed he took advice from both Leaf goalies before shooting, though it looked like he tried stickhandling right into Price's lap.

"I was looking to go blocker side, did my move and he didn't bite," Antropov said. "Then he slipped or something and still stopped it. It was a weird save."

As far as his goalies being unable to pitch a shootout shutout, coach Paul Maurice was reminded he had the option to change to his backup in extra time.

"Sitting for two and a half hours, and then doing the splits?," Maurice shot back. "That's something you guys wouldn't try at home."

The Leafs did complete practice with a shootout drill yesterday, though Antropov acknowledged if they're not breaking in against the goalies they're going to face in a real game, then it's hard to apply the lessons.

"Every goalie has a different style," he said.

Maurice can't back away from comments that he likes the shootout rule, but wondered if the NHL shouldn't go to a five-player format instead of three.

"It drags it out longer and makes it more exciting," he said.

RUSTY TLUSTY

Winger Jiri Tlusty likely will be out until next Tuesday's home game against the Nashville Predators with a bruised shoulder/collarbone.

It happened in Friday's game against Dallas and though the rookie will accompany the Leafs to Atlanta, he fears one good hit in the area will set him back.

Darcy Tucker was given yesterday off after blocking a shot in the Montreal game, but Maurice expects him to play this evening.

Winger Alexei Ponikarovsky (leg) will be a game-time decision after cramps took him out of three days of practice.

LOOSE LEAFS

Maurice said matching the Ilya Kovalchuk-Marian Hossa line tonight creates a challenge. "They play a shift and a half," Maurice said. "We'll have to cover them by committee." ... The Leafs are now at a season-high three-game drought without a power-play goal, heightened by their inability to crowd the net.


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