Upon further review

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:14 AM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Maple Leafs felt like throwing a hockey stick through the television following last night's 3-2 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, preferably at the big HD screen at National Hockey League headquarters in Toronto.

But angry Nik Antropov took the team's anger at a costly overtime penalty and three video replay reversals the hardest, hurling his stick towards referees Mike Leggo and Don Koharski after Rod Brind'Amour netted the game-winner.

Antropov was written up and assessed an automatic three-game suspension under Rule 41.4 for abuse of officials which, combined with John Pohl's ankle injury last night, makes it nine Leafs out of action.

Coach Paul Maurice ordered a handful of players off the ice who were still bickering with the refs long after the game was over, but then let loose with his own frustrations.

"We've been out here and friendly long enough," the tightly wound coach said as the Leafs lost by a goal for the third consecutive game and 18th time this year. "(Carolina's second goal) was a high- stick goal, (Jason) Blake's puck was in the net (a third-period tying effort wiped out), Tim Gleason fell (on a puck) in the crease and it was a lousy call on Antropov.

"If you want to get the story, go ask the people who made the judgements. It's not mine. We disagree. That's all I have to say."

Maurice then stormed off in his shortest post-game appearance of the season. Antropov was hesitant to comment on what occurred, other than to say his overtime hooking call on Cory Stillman was cheap, although one could tell he already was regretting his loss of temper.

Along with all of the heartbreak on the review tube, there was another chapter in the Mats Sundin soap opera.

As the lovelorn in Sweden say, there are plenty of herring in the Baltic and NHL general managers just aren't going to live and die with every dispatch from Toronto about Sundin and his no-trade clause.

The matter dominated again here yesterday as Sundin picked up an assist on a Jiri Tlusty goal, then had the puck glance off his skate and behind Cam Ward with 11.4 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime.

Sundin and Leafs' interim GM Cliff Fletcher lowered the cone of silence on the issue in the afternoon after details of their long-awaited meeting here the night before came out. But at the same time, word of Peter Forsberg's availability became known.

Forsberg has instructed agent Don Baizley to start shopping, while TSN reported that at least a dozen teams are in the hunt for the forward who, if healthy, could make as much of a difference to a contender as Sundin.

And there are other NHL forwards to consider in a rent-a-player capacity, such as Marian Hossa and Bobby Holik as their Atlanta Thrashers flirt with playoff elimination. Those two have more upside at present than two other forwards the Leafs would like to unload, Blake and Darcy Tucker.

On the back end, names such as Rob Blake, Brian Campbell, Adam Foote, Dan Boyle and John-Michael Liles are coming into prominence as their respective clubs enter February with a long climb to playoffs ahead.

Sundin did not leave Wednesday's meeting holding a westbound plane ticket and a gold watch. But both he and Fletcher kept details to a minimum during separate news conferences.

"We rehashed the old days," Fletcher said, trying to throw media pursuers off the scent. "But regarding the (trade) issue, it's a private matter."

'SOMETHING PRIVATE'

Fletcher didn't let down his guard when asked if the subject of the captain re-signing here was raised, the next logical step if Sundin sticks to his no-trade stance. Fletcher can't let him walk on July 1 with nothing to show for it.

"That is something private," Fletcher said of new contract talks with Sundin.

The Leafs held a 1-0 lead -- on Tlusty's fourth goal of the year -- until late in the second period when a series of misfortunes ensued. Ian White ducked an eye-high Gleason shot that hit his glove and fooled Vesa Toskala. The goalie then was stripped of his stick in a goalmouth scramble and screened when Scott Walker tipped in a Gleason shot. Both goals were reviewed for high sticks, with Walker's stick judged to be just under legal height.

Pohl joined the lengthy injury list in the third period when Niclas Wallin shoved him into the boards and sent him off favouring his right ankle.


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