Wellwood, Leafs hammer Rangers

With a hot team in Toronto on Saturday night, Maple Leafs centre Kyle Wellwood picked the perfect time to have his career-best game.

With a hot team in Toronto on Saturday night, Maple Leafs centre Kyle Wellwood picked the perfect time to have his career-best game.

Wellwood posted his first-ever hat trick and added two assists to lead the Leafs to a 9-2 trouncing of the previously hot New York Rangers at the Air Canada Centre.

"I can remember the goals just fine, I don't need to see them again," Wellwood, who doesn't own a TV,jokedfollowing the game."Some of them weren't that pretty anyway."

Wellwood's performance, along with Alexei Ponikarovsky's four points, helped Toronto (16-13-5) cool off a New York team that was previously unbeaten in five games.

The victory was Toronto's third straight win and followed an impressive 4-3 triumph over the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes Friday night.

"You feel fortunate to have these types of games," said Wellwood, adding that five points was his best showing in the OHL as well. "It definitely makes you feel like a top-line player."

The only bad news for Toronto was Darcy Tucker, who leads the Leafs with 19 goals, leaving the game late in the second period with a hand injury after blocking a shot with his glove.

"It's sore right now, but I'm not worried," said Tucker, his left hand bandaged after the game. "Personally, I don't think it's going to be as bad as I thought it would be when I got hit. It wasn't worth me going back into an 8-1 game."

The contest was not kind to Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who allowed eight goals on only 24 shots before being pulled for Kevin Weeks to start the third period.

Toronto goalie Andrew Raycroft, meanwhile, made 11 saves in a very quiet night.

Looked lost early

The Rangers (18-11-4) looked lost from the opening faceoff, giving up five goals in the first period alone.

"We were just completely inept in front of Lundqvist tonight," said Rangers coach Tom Renney. "I thought we would be better than we were. I'm not surprised by this, but I am disappointed."

The Leafs jumped on New York with two goals in 27 seconds for a 2-0 lead in the first period.

Defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo opened the scoring by sneaking in from his point position and chipping the puck over the shoulder of Lundqvist at 5:33.

Toronto went up by two goals seconds later when Ponikarovsky directed a shot toward the Ranger net that went off the skate of defenceman Marek Malik and behind Lundqvist.

The Rangers regrouped to cut Toronto's lead to 2-1 at 11:16 of the first. Darius Kasparaitis, who was trailing the play, took a pass from Jaromir Jagr, then spun around and slid a backhand between the legs of Raycroft, his first goal since Dec. 20, 2003.

But the Leafs scoring barrage continued more than three minutes later. Wellwood controlled a Ponikarovsky pass and one-timed a slapshot that beat Lundqvist high and to the stick side.

Toronto then scored two goals in 15 seconds to take a commanding 5-1 advantage. Wellwood netted his second goal of the game on a 5-on-3 power play with a shot that went off the stick of Brendan Shanahan.

It was the 10th time this season the Leafs have scored with a two-man advantage.

With the Leafs still on the power-play, John Pohl caught New York by surprise on the next shift, breaking past defenceman Fedor Tyutin and backhanding a shot over a sprawling Lundqvist at 16:53 of the first.

Wellwood completed the hat trick more than five minutes into the second period, skating to the slot to flip a rebound into the open net.

The Leafs scored three of the next four goals, including the team's ninth tally with a 5-on-3 power play, while Martin Straka scored a meaningless goal for the Rangers early in the third period.

With files from the Canadian Press