DENVER - Ryan Smyth has a reputation for crashing in on goalies, skirting dangerously close to making contact.
That rep might have cost Colorado a tying goal as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Avalanche 7-4 on Thursday night to snap a four-game losing streak.
Smyth was called for an interference penalty on goalie Vesa Toskala, nullifying Milan Hejduk's tying score early in the third period.
He was hot over the call made by referee Don Koharski, feeling as though Maple Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn nudged him into Toskala.
As fans threw hats on the ice to celebrate what they thought was Hejduk's third goal of the game, Smyth pleaded his point as best he could.
"I didn't agree," Smyth said. "I thought I stopped and got pushed."
Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson saw things differently.
"Smyth took the goalie out of the play," he said. "You know who it was - Ryan Smyth. He's known for doing that. He's got a reputation, and the referee was watching. Luke bumped him and Ryan had his stick between his legs."
The call came shortly after Jason Blake scored to give the Maple Leafs a lead they wouldn't squander. Toronto added two goals to turn the game into a lopsided win.
It's the most the Avalanche have allowed this season.
"It's hard to remember who has the lead and what the score is when there's that many goals," Leafs defenceman Jeff Finger said. "It was a great win for us."
Toronto's Dominic Moore, who scored twice, is the younger brother of Steve Moore, a former Avalanche player who had his career ended by former Vancouver Canucks player Todd Bertuzzi. Moore was grabbed from behind by Bertuzzi during a road game on March 8, 2004, punched on the side of his head and then jumped on, driving Moore's head into the ice. Moore sustained a broken neck.
"Steve's doing well," said Dominic, who used to come to the Pepsi Center and skate with his brother. "He really appreciates the letters he continues to receive from the people here. He's at the point where he's figuring out what's going to be on his plate next."
The talk before the game surrounded Avalanche players Darcy Tucker and Andrew Raycroft, who faced the team that bought out their contracts last summer.
Lost in that was the return of Finger, who playing against the club that drafted him. Finger spent the previous two seasons with Colorado. He scored his first goal since Dec. 1 on a slap shot in the second period.
"I don't mind flying under the radar," said Finger, who was back after missing seven games due to an unspecified injury. "It was a little deja vu in warmups, looking over and seeing my old teammates. It was really nice coming back."
Hejduk scored twice for the Avalanche, his second multigoal game this season. Chris Stewart and John-Michael Liles added in goals for Colorado, which has dropped six of seven.
"Just another tough loss," Hejduk said. "We battled the whole game, but came away with nothing."
The Maple Leafs roughed up their former goalie, Raycroft, scoring seven times on 30 shots. Nik Antropov, Mikhail Grabovski and Matt Stajan also scored for Toronto.
"We got some breaks for a change and took advantage of them," Wilson said. "The little tweaks we made energized some of our players. ... It was fun to see."
The whistle against Smyth was something the Avalanche didn't want to hear.
"It was a call the ref had to make in a split decision," Avalanche coach Tony Granato said. "I don't think it was the right call."
Notes: The Avalanche activated F Cody McCormick from injured reserve. He missed 15 games with a foot injury. ... Colorado D Kyle Cumiskey left 26 seconds in the first period with a shoulder injury. ... Toronto played at the Pepsi Center for only the second time since the arena was opened in 1999. ... Nikolai Kulemin, Blake, Ian White, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Niklas Hagman all had two assists for Toronto.