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Carlyle says Leafs ‘can breathe’ after breaking skid

Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens

MONTREAL, CANADA - MARCH 3: New head coach Randy Carlyle of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates during the teams morning skate prior to facing the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on March 3, 2012 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

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Following the Toronto Maple Leafs’ fourth consecutive loss on Friday, Randy Carlyle said that his team has been “begging, pleading, kissing” to gain some confidence. Now they’re exhaling after breaking that skid with a 3-2 shootout win against the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.

“We can breathe,” Carlyle said, according to the Canadian Press’ Chris Johnston. “There’s been a lot of gasping going on.”

Critics will point out that the Maple Leafs haven’t won very often lately during regulation - just two of their nine wins since Nov. 23 have come before overtime or shootouts - but Carlyle’s evocative descriptions make it pretty clear that Toronto will take what it can get.

So, yes, they might be limping, dragging, slumping into contention, but the bottom line is that they’re still in the mix. Even if it’s not always the prettiest sight.

Follow James O’Brien @cyclelikesedins