1/23/97 -- 4:27 AM

Flames-Maple Leafs

TORONTO (AP) - The subject of numerous trade rumors, Doug Gilmour responded with his best game of the season for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Toronto captain Gilmour had five assists in the Maple Leafs' 5-3 victory over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night, then exited through a back door without talking to reporters.

``I just expect that of him,'' Toronto coach Mike Murphy said of Gilmour's passing display against the Flames. ``Often he's maligned unfairly, but he does so much for us, killing penalties, taking a regular shift. He's under a lot of pressure, but he always responds.''

Gilmour assisted on goals by Rob Zettler - who scored his first in five years - Wendel Clark, David Cooper, Kirk Muller and Mats Sundin. The victory snapped a seven-game losing streak for the Maple Leafs.

Clark, playing with a soft cast on his injured right hand, scored his team-leading fifth game-winning goal.

Clark, who missed 16 games with a broken thumb, was not expected to play but arrived at Maple Leaf Gardens for the morning skate, practiced with the team for only the second time and was inserted into the starting lineup.

``It was a big win, everybody had some big moments,'' Clark said. ``Dougie had an outstanding game, he led everybody the whole way, and Felix Potvin made a key save at the right time.''

Theoren Fleury had two goals for the Flames, who lost for the second time in as many nights. Jarome Iginla had the other Calgary goal.

The Maple Leafs triumphed in large part because of a shaky performance by Flames backup goalie Dwayne Roloson. Roloson hadn't played for 11 days and he looked porous in surrendering goals on long shots by Zettler and Cooper.

He gave up four goals on 19 shots over two periods before being pulled in the second intermission in favor of Trevor Kidd.

Potvin preserved the victory with a spectacular close-in save on Fleury, who burst in alone with 20 seconds left in the game.

``It's good that the puck finally didn't go behind me on one of those occasions,'' Potvin said. ``Lately it seems like late in the game it looks like it finds a way to get in and hurt our team.''

``I just shot it right into his glove,'' Fleury said. ``I guess he outguessed me.''

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