The Toronto Maple Leafs were crying the blues last night. Too bad the referee wasn't listening.
The referee, veteran Don Massenhoven, waived off Darcy Tucker's apparent tying goal with under a minute to play. The quick whistle by Massenhoven was the deciding factor in the Leafs' 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues before 19,363 fans in the Air Canada Centre.
Leafs' captain Mats Sundin put in his two cents with Massenhoven after the game, visibly upset about the non-goal call in the third and another in the first. Sundin jammed a puck under Blues' netminder Manny Legace, whose pads were clearly insde the net during a goal-mouth scramble in the opening stanza. But, replays were inconclusive on whether the puck actually crossed the goal-line.
The Leafs didn't get the benefit of a whistle-happy referee in the second period. Blues' forward David Backes poked home a rebound that lay to the right of Leafs' goalie Vesa Toskala's pad for what seemed like an eternity. Toskala told reporters after the game that he thought the puck was under his arm. That second period marker gave the Blues a 3-1 lead and proved to be the eventual winner.
Keith Tkachuk scored twice for St. Louis, on the team's first two shots of the game. Jason Blake and Matt Stajan replied for the Leafs.
The Blues won for the first time in eight games and climbed to within three points of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Leafs remained six points out of eighth place in the East and fourteenth in their conference.
Defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo returned to the Leafs' lineup for the second time this season, playing only his sixth game of the year. He's missed 46 games due to two seperate knee injuries. Colaiacovo was teammed with blueliner Ian White for most of the night.
Leafs were missing Alexei Ponikarovsky (shoulder), Alex Steen (shoulder), Boyd Devereaux (wrist) and Bryan McCabe for last night's game.
The next action for the Leafs will come Thursday when the club heads to Raleigh to face the Carolina Hurricanes. Last time the two teams met in Carolina, the Leafs blew a 2-0 lead in the final 90 seconds and fell 3-2 in overtime. Eric Staal, who was named the most valuable player at last Sunday's NHL's All-Star game in Atlanta, scored the OT goal.