Leafs blow it on big night

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

TORONTO -- With four days off between games, coach Ron Wilson had plenty of homework for his young and learning Maple Leafs.

For his next assignment, perhaps a trip to finishing school. Or maybe some more required viewing of Wendel Clark highlights, if the pre-game show on the big screen last night wasn't enough.

Anything but the sloppy late effort that spoiled the party for the popular ex-Leafs captain.

Toronto blew 3-0 and 4-2 leads against the Blackhawks on Wendel night and paid dearly for it, losing 5-4 in overtime.

"We were a little lost out there at times," Leafs forward Nik Hagman said. "We've got to play smarter. We just make it too hard for ourselves if we stop skating."

Especially against a high-energy outfit like the Blackhawks. And especially with suspect play in their own end.

While Dave Bolland's game-winner 49 seconds into overtime came with a couple of nice moves, he was allowed to dance around in the Leafs zone with impunity.

RAZOR SHARP

"They have a lot of naturally skilled guys who can put the puck in the net if they get the chance," Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala said. "I guess it's the one area we have to get better ... being better with the lead."

Goals by Pavel Kubina, Matt Stajan and Dominic Moore had the Leafs up 3-0 by the midway mark of the second period. But a pair of goals by Chicago sniper Patrick Sharp made it a game.

The Leafs led 4-2 on Alexei Ponikarovsky's soft goal late in the third, but Patrick Kane narrowed that 58 seconds into the third. And when Chicago tough guy Ben Eager was allowed to slip one past Toskala at the 12:27 mark, the Leafs lead was gone for good.

"The first half of the game, we dominated them," said Wilson, whose team is winless in its past three. "We got a 3-0 lead and got carried away with ourselves ... The outcome was inevitable the way we were supporting the puck."


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