The Toronto Maple Leafs built a 3-1 lead after two periods in Ottawa only to
let it slip away against the Senators. Toronto, however, recover to win 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday.
Talk about doing things the hard way.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have put together back-to-back wins after a five-game losing streak, but neither was easy, nor were they pretty.
On the heels of a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars in which Toronto was out-shot 50-24, the Maple Leafs built a 3-1 lead after two periods in Ottawa only to let it slip away. The Maple Leafs did, however, recover to win 3-2 in a shootout; Mason Raymond potted the winner.
It was a typical night for Toronto as the visitors were out-shot 50-31 and had to rely on solid goaltending to save the day.
Toronto coach Randy Carlyle was not thrilled with the way his team nearly self-destructed.
"We worked hard for 40 minutes and established the type of game we wanted to play and then we take some penalties that change the momentum and we don't seem to be able to get it back," Carlyle said.
"Tonight they scored two power play goals that we should have had coverage on. But we won the hockey game; found a way to win and that's the most important thing. We've had some down times here prior to the last two games so no matter how you get them we're going to take them and move on."
Moving on means a rare Sunday night home game against the Boston Bruins at 7 p.m.
Sometimes you wonder if Carlyle is talking to a wall, but give him credit, he is not changing his tune. He wants his team to be more aggressive in terms of controlling the play and won't rest until that happens.
"When we skate and we attack we can be a hockey club that can have success," he said. "When we sit back and receive the game we allow the opposition to dictate the pace of the game. When we get a lead we freeze."
1A and 1B
Toronto coach Randy Carlyle has insisted all season he does not have a No. 1 goalie and that James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier are 1A and 1B (though he has not specified which is which). Many wondered if Carlyle would come back with Bernier in Ottawa after he made 48 saves against the Dallas Stars in a 3-2 overtime win Thursday night, but Reimer got the start. Apparently Reimer's 8-1 lifetime record against the Senators (6-0 in Ottawa) trumps Bernier's hot hand. Or perhaps Carlyle was saving Bernier for the Boston Bruins Sunday at home in which case you'd have to think he is indeed 1A.
Interestingly, Reimer's previous start against Ottawa was Oct. 5 this season when he allowed four goals in 30:56 and was pulled. Bernier replaced him and the Maple Leafs won 5-4 in a shootout so Reimer's record was unblemished.
Reimer played superbly against the Senators making 47 saves in regulation and overtime and then two more in the shootout.
Most impressive was the fact the two shots he stopped in the shootout were aimed glove side high - his weak area.
"We stated that we had two NHL quality goaltenders and the naysayers said we had to do this and we had to do that," Carlyle said. "We're going to do what we think is right for our hockey club and we feel we're fortunate to have the level of goaltending from Reimer and Bernier and we can go with either of them on any given night."
McClement penalty woes
Jay McClement is widely regarded as Toronto's best penalty-killer with David Bolland out, but he has taken penalties in three straight games. While he was off for tripping in the first period former Maple Leaf Clarke MacArthur scored to tie the game 1-1. McClement simply needs to be more disciplined for the Maple Leafs to be successful while they are missing key players with injuries.
Right place, wrong guy
Toronto defenceman Carl Gunnarsson, who has yet to score this season, found himself in alone in the final minute of overtime, but was unable to convert. The play was the result of a nifty little flip pass from Nazem Kadri.
After going through a span of eight games in which he scored in just one (albeit a two-goal effort), right-winger Phil Kessel now has goals in four of his last six.
Liles catches a break
John-Michael Liles is an NHL defenceman, not an American-Leaguer, as has been the case this season. So with the team trying to skate its way out of a funk with so many key players injured Liles finally got the call to come back to the team. His contract, in a year when the salary cap went down for the first time, conspired to put him in the minors. The Maple Leafs have been actively trying to trade him, knowing full well they'll have to swallow some of his salary, but there have been no takers. A strong performance during his return to the NHL may help change that. In 13 AHL games with the Marlies Liles has three goals and 13 points.
Liles played a solid game in Ottawa with 17:51 ice time on 30 shifts. He had two shots on goals, three hits and two blocked shots.
"He gave us what he does best," Carlyle said. "He's a puck-moving defenceman and I thought he did a heck of a job for us."
Mike BrophyMike Brophy brings a wealth of hockey writing and broadcasting experience to CBC Sports, having covered junior hockey for 14 years before joining The Hockey News as its senior writer for 17 years starting in 1992. Most recently, the Burlington, Ont., native worked as a writer/commentator at Rogers Sportsnet and as co-host of The Power Play on SiriusXM. Mike has written four books, including My First Goal, featuring 50 players describing their first NHL goals.
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