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Ducks Help End Panic in Toronto

Maple Leafs, who had lost five of six at home, run into the right team at the right time, defeating Anaheim, 5-2.

October 29, 2002|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

TORONTO — Take heart struggling hockey teams, aide will be coming to your arena soon.

At least that's the way it seems when the Mighty Ducks hit town. They've become a care package. Monday was more proof of that.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, feeling the pressure of a poor start, got a Duck booster shot in a 5-2 victory in front of 18,891 at Air Canada Centre. A three-goal second period was medicine for what ailed the Maple Leafs.

Then the Ducks were off, flying to Montreal, where goalie Jose Theodore, winner of the Hart and Vezina trophies last season, is laboring to find his game after signing a three-year, $16.5-million contract.

A hint to the Canadien brain trust: This might be a good time to get Theodore back in the lineup.

"I don't want this to become, 'Invite the Ducks into town when things aren't going good and we'll give you an opportunity to get it going,' " Duck Coach Mike Babcock said.

Unfortunately for the Ducks, that's the way it has been the last two games.

Saturday, they blew a two-goal lead in the third period, losing to Edmonton, 4-3. Much talk of learning and improving followed. That worked fine until six minutes into the second period Monday.

Then Toronto's Nik Antropov battled in front of the net and swept in his own rebound to break a 1-1 tie. Alexander Mogilny and Mats Sundin followed with goals and that was that.

"It's embarrassing to come to Toronto, the hockey capital of the world, and play like that," team captain Paul Kariya said. "We should have had a sense of urgency after losing to Edmonton. This team should have bounced back then."

Now would also be a good time.

The Ducks have two games left on a trip that started fine with a tie against Vancouver. After Montreal, they face a Boston team that has lost only once. Two more losses and the Ducks come home with a 2-7-2-0 record. "This road trip is a big trip for us," Babcock said. "We got off to a good start on the road trip, we had the situation

It didn't start that way. The Maple Leafs seemed as dysfunctional as the Ducks with a 2-6-1 record before the game. They had lost the first three games of a seven-game homestand and were 1-5 at home.

Alyn McCauley put the Maple Leafs on better footing 1:56 into the game, knocking in a Mikael Renberg pass out of the air for a 1-0 lead. Still, all was well for the Ducks when Matt Cullen tied the score with a wrist shot two minutes later.

Then came the second period.

After Antropov scored, Sundin glided behind the net and slid a pass across the crease to Mogilny and it was 2-1 midway through the second period. With 17 seconds left, Sundin crashed the net and knocked home a Renberg centering pass.

"They scored two goals three-on-three down low where we were lost," Babcock said. "You work on that stuff every day. There is no excuse for that."

The Duck power play got involved in the third period as well, producing a goal ... for the Maple Leafs. Jonas Hoglund intercepted a pass and fed Robert Reichel, who scored the short-handed goal.

"This is something we have to address," defenseman Fredrik Olausson said. "You can't play like that and expect to win."

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