Power-play powerless

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

Perhaps the next Maple Leafs' regime will find room in the budget for a power-play coach.

Years of complaining about its inefficiency and inconsistency has done nothing and now it's an open wound at the worst possible time of the season.

"It's put a face on our whole season," said a frustrated Mats Sundin after last night's 5-4 loss.

He was refering to a 5-on-3 gift late in the game that lasted 1:07 and should have given the Leafs a chance to at least take the New York Islanders to overtime. But it came up empty and despite Matt Stajan's goal, it was outscored 4-1 by New York and remains 29th of 30 teams.

"Some nights, the hockey gods are with you, and some nights they're not," Stajan said.

The Leafs would seem to have some of the best weapons in the NHL; Sundin, bulky wingers with scoring touch in Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky, a smooth passer in Tomas Kaberle and a cannon from Bryan McCabe, plus a good second unit which is now fronted by Stajan.

"The thing is, we have to get in our minds, every one of us who's playing on the power play, to work hard and battle for the puck, double up in the corners," Ponikarovsky said. "And we have to get a presence in front of the goalie. That's how you score goals."

BOTTOM OF LEAGUE

The Leafs are the only team in the league who are ranked in the bottom five in both power play and penalty killing. When Sundin took off on an ill-advised short-handed rush with McCabe it left Hal Gill unable to defend a 3-on-1 that Mike Comrie scored on.

"We've definitely had our fair share of bad bounces tonight," Stajan said, "but we don't want to be making excuses here. Now we've got to make sure we've got our work caps on, and come back Saturday (against Boston)."

Meanwhile, Isles' goalie Rick DiPietro raved about his team's work stopping the 5-on-3 and a too-many men call that gave the Leafs a bonus chance a few minutes later.

"We were only up a goal and with the way the game had been called, I had a feeling we'd get some calls coming against us."


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