A vital game for the Leafs, who benefited from Washington—s hiccup (/major crisis) last night and were lucky to still be clinging to the eight seed. The Buds needed to take points from a New Jersey team that has been hot of late, coming into this one with an eight point lead over the Leafs in the Conference standings.
1 — The Leafs are 29-24-7 and it was Stifler night in the ACC. Note to self – need to watch Goon. Biggest game of the year so far and we got a point out of it. Sounds better that way, if you can ignore the way the Leafs lost the second.
2 — Grabovski and Kessel were wearing the As as both Colby Armstrong and Mike Komisarek were healthy scratches.
3 — Good pressure early in the first period. Fast legs created a number of good opportunities for the boys, but Martin Broudeur has been in excellent form of late and it certainly showed early in this game. It seemed like we killed the first penalty of the game, and we technically did, but Sykora was left all alone to get two cracks and beat Gus, who gets no help from the defense — Gunnarsson and Gardiner, Phaneuf came out of the box and played forward.
4 — Clarkson scores through Gustavsson with 5:42 to go in the first period, bad goal to give up there. Immediately after, Leafs respond. Franson throws it towards the net and Connolly redirects it past Brodeur, who was screened by both Connolly and Lombardi. Good net presence there. Right after that, Dion gets into a scrap with Clarkson as he has to answer for a big hit on Parise in the corner. It was a pretty even bout, a good bout, but the captain did get a couple of good ones in plus the takedown. Leafs got a PP out of it too, which was justice given our captain had to go to the box for 5 minutes over a clean hit. Didn—t last long as Kessel interfered with Parise shortly after which evened things out in terms of on ice personnel.
5 — Parise missed the open net, hits the post and fails to put a vital two goal lead on the board for New Jersey. Happens to the best of them or is it a sign? My God, he—s signing in Toronto!
6 — Good thing for the weird cowboy dude, he needs to dance more often. Right after he made his appearance on TV Clarke MacArthur scores to tie the game after some great work on the forecheck to create a turnover in the Devils— zone. Grabo makes a perfect pass for Mac Daddy who makes no mistake in close.
7 — It had to be Poni. He was left wide open in the slot and makes it 3-2 Leafs. Seriously, if you don—t start shivering every time a team has a former Leaf in their lineup something must be wrong with you. It trickles through Gus— fivehole, umm, yeah. But that—s not the whole story. With their first goal and the Poni goal the bad team defense once again comes in to haunt us.
8 — Some say Gus needs consecutive starts to get going, and the way Wilson manages him is the problem. Well maybe, but to me Gus failing to play his best in a two goalie situation is a fault of Gus, not the coaching staff. He has not earned the right to be anointed the unequivocal number one, and he—s not going to be gift wrapped starts just because he needs them. Get your chance and you have to perform. If he needs a few bad games to have a good one, that’s on Gus. He did make amends for one bad goal late in the game after he made two terrific saves early in the third period. The first one was a Kovalchuk breakaway, the second was a rebound chance for Parise. He was big late in the third as well, and you got to give him credit for sticking with it and battling hard, but it’s all for naught when you lose the game on your team like that.
9 — New Jersey enters the third with a lead and you know what that means. A tough third period where the Leafs again struggled to combat the trap was saved by a huge goal by Kessel to get an important point, but the game ended on a really anticlimactic note…
10 — The Leafs had a chance to put some distance between them and Washington and the Buds couldn—t produce the desired result. Slumping San Jose next, oh boy. A point is a point, but it’s not two.