Motley crew for Leafs

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

The Maple Leafs will be on the phone to the Marlies again this morning after losing two more players last night to knock a total of nine out of the lineup.

Nik Antropov was hit with an automatic three-game suspension for a post-game stick-tossing exhibition after last night's 3-2 overtime loss to the Hurricanes.John Pohl suffered a severe-looking ankle injury when pushed awkwardly into the boards by Carolina's Niclas Wallin.

Already out are forwards Alexei Ponikarovsky (shoulder), Alex Steen (shoulder), Boyd Devereaux (wrist), Mark Bell (broken orbital bone), Darryl Boyce (shoulder), Chad Kilger (personal) and defenceman Bryan McCabe (broken hand).

The Leafs' fourth line last night was the seldom-used Wade Belak with Marlie callups Ben Ondrus and Kris Newbury.

Ondrus subscribed to the theory that opportunity knocks in such situations.

"That's the business," said Ondrus, who accepted his demotion in October and became captain of the red-hot Marlies.

"You put the personal stuff aside, try to come together as a team and win some games."

OFF THE RADAR

Sergei Samsonov spent his entire NHL career in three fairly serious hockey centres: Chicago, Boston and Edmonton. But Raleigh, N.C., is a different animal, even though it celebrated a Stanley Cup just two years ago.

"It's not a 24/7 hockey city, but the guys here are passionate about the game," said Samsonov, who was claimed on waivers from the Blackhawks on Jan. 8.

LEAFS SALUTE FORCES

Tomorrow night's game against the Ottawa Senators is part of Canadian Forces Appreciation Weekend, involving the Raptors and Marlies.

General Rick Hillier and members of the services will be participating in a pre-game ceremony tomorrow, while season ticket holders and other civilians with tickets are being encouraged to donate them to servicemen and women for the game, dropping them at Gate 2 of the ACC.


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