Darryl Boyce and Colby Armstrong tallied three points apiece, and the Maple Leafs sealed somewhat of an ugly win against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.
After Kevin Poulin went down with a strange knee injury in warmup, the Islanders were forced to go with fifth string goaltender Mikko Koskinen, who hadn’t played a National Hockey League game in his life.
Easy win for Toronto right? More like a perfect situation for a Leafs shutout loss. We all know how these things work by now.
Luckily the Leafs were able to get to the rookie early with an Armstrong goal at 1:29 of the first.
Toronto then jumped off to a 2-0 lead, but surrendered a late first period powerplay goal from Matt Moulson. The Islanders then brought it to even in the second frame with a goal from rookie Michael Grabner.
Tied going into the third, I honestly didn’t feel good about this one. Odd man rushes were everywhere early on in this game and it wasn’t pretty. Luckily, Mr. Deadline himself Tomas Kaberle put the Leafs up early in the third and they didn’t look back as Kulemin and Sjostrom sealed it. The Islanders managed another goal, but much too late.
5-3 Leafs, done and done.
It was somewhat of a night of milestones in Long Island, as the Leafs cracked the 50 point mark, Nik Kulemin notched his twentieth goal of the season, and Brett Lebda was a +2. A plus rating seen as monumental? In Lebda’s case, yes.
Number twenty for Kulemin puts him and Grabovski as the only Leafs to hit that mark so far, both ahead of Kessel. But tonight isn’t a night to rip on #81, as he playedÂ quite well for the most part – hitting a post and nabbing an assist on a great pass to Kulemin.
The man known as Optimus Reim continued to be impressive, turning away 31 of 34 Islander shots, including some great saves while the Leafs’ skaters decided to take a mental break midway through the game. As Steve Dangle notes, with the victory Reimer ties Gustavsson in wins this season at six in just less than half the games played.
The win tonight put the Leafs (51) eight points back of eighth place Carolina (59), with an equal amount of games played (54). It also broughtÂ Toronto to a 4-1-0 record for February so far, and over that stretch we’ve really been seeing some good production from the blueline.
Over the past five contests the Leafs’ top defencemen have combined for twelve points, distributed as follows:
Schenn – 3 assists
Phaneuf – 1 goal, 1 assist
Kaberle – 1 goal, 5 assists
Beauchemin – 1 goal
When you look at stats like that it’s tough to envision a Kaber-less Leafs squad, but it’s that type of production that makes him a real asset (tell us something we don’t know, right?)
Next up: the Maple Leafs will host the Devils on Thursday night.
Notes: … Darren Dreger has reported that Tomas Kaberle will not be re-signing with the Leafs, and his “going rate” is a 2nd rounder and a prospect … AM640 mentioned that Luke Schenn was checking in on the Sabres/Lightning and Blues/Panthers games between the second and third period … Jay Rosehill notched his first goal of the season in the first period …