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Leafs Slap Sabres


Things got so bad for Dominik Hasek that even Tie Domi and Garry Valk scored.

Hasek allowed three first-period goals, the first to Toronto enforcer Domi, as the Maple Leafs coasted to their third straight win, 5-2 over the Buffalo Sabres.

Hasek started back-to-back games for the first time since missing 40 contests with a groin injury. He stopped just 23 of 28 shots in a 6-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Friday and said the poor outings have nothing to do with his health.

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  • "I don't understand, I feel very good," said Hasek, a five-time winner of the Vezina Trophy and two-time league MVP. "Sometimes you don't feel good and play unbelievable and other times, like tonight, you feel strong and don't play well. You never know."

    Domi, Jonas Hoglund and Dmitri Yushkevich staked Toronto to a 3-0 first-period lead. Mats Sundin and Valk rounded out the scoring for Northeast Division-leading Maples Leafs.

    Buffalo's enforcer Rob Ray and Stu Barnes scored third-period goals. It was Ray's first goal in two years, a span of 140 regular season games.

    The Sabres trail the New York Rangers by three points in the battle for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

    "These are games we have to win," Ray said. "We should have been able to rebound from (Friday's loss.) We should have redeemed ourselves."

    Hasek was down and out of position when Domi converted a behind-the-net pass from Darcy Tucer at 5:55 of the first period to give Toronto a 1-0 lead.

    Domi, who also assisted on Valk's goal, had his first two-point game since March 9, 1999.

    "The more you play the more effective you are and the more confident you are," Domi said. "I went out early and hit a few guys and knocked their defense off the puck. We're playing a lot better now."

    Domi's line, also consisting of Valk and center Kevyn Adams, has three goals in two games.

    "We're all seeing the ice well," Valk said. "We're managing to get more than 12 or 13 minutes a game and it's making a difference. We're coming out with lots of energy."

    After going 10 of 13 games trailing after the first period, Toronto has held a first intermission lead in three of four games.

    "You play a lot better when you start believing in yourself," coach Pat Quinn said. "Hopefully we can keep building on the positive things."

    Hoglund connected on a soft but tricky wrist shot through a screen at 6:31 and Yushkevich sent a blast from the point on the power play at 12:40 to give Toronto a 3-0 lead. By then, the fans at Air Canada Centre were chanting Hasek's name in disdain and mock cheering his next few saves.

    Toronto outshot Buffalo 13-7 in the first period, 29-26 overall.

    Sundin put Toronto up 4-0 on the power play at 9:57 of the second period.

    Curtis Joseph had his shutout bid spoiled at 3:06 of the third period when Ray banged in Geoff Sanderson's rebound. Referee Bill McCreary collided with Valk on the play, setting up Sanderson's burst down the left wing.

    Valk got a goal back when he took a pass from Domi at 6:39 to make it 5-1. The assist gave Domi his first two-point game since March 9, 1999. Domi wheeled down the left wing and lofted a centering pass to Valk in the slot.

    "I listen to him," Valk said. "He told me to keep my stick on the ice and he'll put it on the tape. I guess he was right."

    Barnes capped the scoring with a power-play goal with 49 seconds remaining. The Sabres, who have the NHL's worst power-play unit, went 1-for-6 against the Maple Leafs.

    For the second straight game, Toronto went with a lineup of 11 forwards and seven defensemen. Wendel Clark, who has just two goals and four points in 16 games since signing with Toronto on Jan. 9, did not dress.

    Toronto right wing Steve Thomas played in his 1,000th NHL regular season game and was honored in a pregame ceremony. Among the gifts he and his family received were framed scoresheets of games No. 1 and 1,000 and a trip for four to his native England.

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