Maple Leafs Top Predators; Belak Nets First Goal Since '03

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

TORONTO (AP) -- Wade Belak doesn't remember when he last scored or which team it was against.

His rare goal was one of three odd scores by Toronto in the Maple Leafs' 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.

Goofy goals by Nik Antropov, Matt Stajan and Belak -- it was his first in four years, by the way -- helped the Leafs win their third straight.

"I was under the age of 30 anyways," was the 31-year-old native of Saskatoon's first response when asked if he could recall his previous goal. "God, I don't know when it was."

For the record, it was Dec. 20, 2003, at home against Montreal.

Shea Weber scored for Nashville, and goalie Chris Mason made 12 saves.

Vesa Toskala made 34 saves for Toronto.

"He stole the show," said Nashville captain Jason Arnott, who had 12 shots on Toskala. "We were on the wrong end of the bounces."

Antropov connected on the game's first shot. Mason glided out to the top of his crease when Hal Gill wound up to take a long shot. The puck struck the stick blade of Nashville defenseman Dan Hamhuis and caromed at nearly a 90-degree angle to Antropov, who fired it into the vacated net 28 seconds in.

With 11 goals, Antropov is well on his way to topping last season's career-best 18 -- if he can avoid injuries. The 6-foot-6 Kazakh missed 28 games last season and 25 the year before.

Stajan made it 2-0 in the second minute of the second period when, with his back to the net, he took a backhand swing at a knee-high puck to put it behind Mason for his sixth of the season.

Belak got his first goal since Dec. 20, 2003, at 2:48 of the third period. Chad Kilger's high, long shot hit Nashville defenseman Greg Zanon and the puck landed on Belak's stick. With Zanon lying on the ice, the 31-year-old forward slid the puck into the open side of the net and raised his arms to celebrate his eighth career goal in his 407th NHL game.

Toskala made his biggest save of the night with 8½ minutes left when he stuck out his left leg to stop a Jason Arnott shot. Arnott shook his head in disbelief and turned to say something to the Finnish netminder. Toskala robbed Arnott again 90 seconds later.

"We played against him in the playoffs when he was in San Jose and he's a good goalie, he's proven that," said Weber.


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