Leafs' Belfour earns milestone win
The Florida Panthers outplayed the Toronto Maple Leafs, but Ed Belfour was determined to stand on an equal footing with Terry Sawchuk.
Belfour stopped 34 shots as the visiting Maple Leafs eked out a 2-1 victory over the Panthers before a crowd of 11,215 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla., on Monday.
It was Belfour's 447th win in the NHL, tying him with Sawchuk for second place on the all-time list behind Patrick Roy (551).
"It's indescribable," Belfour said. "I've just been fortunate to have been on a lot of good teams in my career.
"I felt good right from the start tonight. It was just one of those games where things went well for me."
"It's incredible, really," Maple Leafs head coach Pat Quinn said. "(Sawchuk) is considered by many to be the best who ever played.
"It doesn't make Eddie the greatest. But it certainly puts him in an elite category."
Sawchuk, who, like Belfour, was born in Manitoba, posted a stunning record 103 shutouts in 971 NHL games with the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, Maple Leafs, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers.
He died at the age of 41 on May 31, 1970.
"I had a chance to read his biography," Belfour said of Sawchuk.
"He was a fierce competitor and very acrobatic out there and, obviously, very brave not wearing a mask most of his career and I'm just honoured to be tied with him. I just wish he was alive to meet him."
Darcy Tucker and Bryan McCabe scored for the Maple Leafs (14-8-3).
McCabe's power-play goal midway through the third period was the winner as Toronto improved to 4-1-1 over its past five games versus Florida.
"I thought we hung in there and got great goaltending again," said Maple Leafs forward Eric Lindros, who assisted on Tucker's goal.
"It wasn't our most spectacular (win). But generally, a good effort."
Stephen Weiss had a power-play goal Roberto Luongo turned aside 24 of 26 shots for the Panthers (7-14-4), losers in 14 of 15.
"We deserved a better result," Weiss said. "Three of four times we had pucks laying on the goal-line - in the crease - and we didn't seize on it."
Toronto opened the scoring 11:59 into the second period when a wrist shot by Lindros struck a defenceman and caromed directly to Tucker, who potted his ninth goal of the season.
Weiss tied it 1-1 with 1:33 left in the period, diving to sweep a rebound behind Belfour for his seventh.
It remained deadlocked until McCabe beat Luongo to the stick side with a rising slap shot during a 5-on-3 power play at 10:18 of the third period.
"We moved the puck around and got lucky," McCabe said. "I got a clear shot."
Eight of McCabe's 10 goals this season have come with the man advantage.
"We'll take it," he said. "The ice wasn't great out there, to say the least."
Of note, Toronto's road trip sees it play three games in four nights.
with files from CP Online