Maple Leafs hit win column in Anaheim
Make it one Monster win and counting as Jonas Gustavsson's first NHL win coincided with the first win of the season for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Aided by Niklas Hagman's second NHL hat trick, Gustavsson, known as The Monster, returned to the lineup from a groin injury and chalked up his first NHL win, 6-3 over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.
"It is not about me," Gustavsson said. "This is a total team effort.
"I did not think about the groin. The only thing that mattered was stopping the puck."
Toronto's first win ended a franchise-worst eight-game losing streak to open a season.
"It is a big relief," said Maple Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle, who had a career-high five points.
"It feels good to get the win. We never thought we would go until late October [without a win]."
"The last two games we've played well enough to win and that is usually an indication you're coming out of the bad streak," Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson said. "We got some bounces, pucks went in and the Ducks lost their discipline a little bit."
Gustavsson made 25 saves, notably sensational stops on Erik Christensen and Corey Perry.
The hulking rookie netminder extended a pad to foil Christensen at the right post in the first period and robbed Perry from the slot with a glove save in the second period.
"He was amazing," Hagman said. "When he made that save, the whole bench gained confidence."
"I was a bit nervous at the beginning," Gustavsson admitted. "But that is a good thing.
"The biggest thing is the team got the win. That is the most important part."
Lee Stempniak had one goal and three assists and Matt Stajan contributed three assists as Toronto tallied five times on 11 power-play chances.
"We were struggling to score goals and tonight we had plenty of opportunities to get it done," said Maple Leafs defenceman Francois Beauchemin, who spent the better part of four seasons with the Ducks.
"We knew that was how they were going to play — because that is Anaheim — and we could capitalize on it."
'It was only a matter of time'
The Maple Leafs (1-7-1) had held a lead all of six minutes 41 minutes through their first eight games — all losses — but Mikhail Grabovski and Hagman changed that, erasing a 1-0 deficit with power-play goals 76 seconds apart.
"It was only a matter of time before we could get a lead and see if we could hold onto it," Wilson said.
After Anaheim's Petteri Nokelainen opened the scoring on a one-timer from the point 10:28 into the contest, Grabovski jumped over the boards during a two-man advantage in time to bury Stajan's centring pass for the tying goal at 14:38.
Toronto remained on the power play and Hagman scored on a rising wrist shot from the circle to make it 2-1 with 4:10 left in the first period.
He later skated out from behind the net and fired a shot inside the far post for a power-play goal, his second on the night.
"Hopefully, we'll remember next game how good it feels and we'll get another lead," Hagman said. "We had quite a few opportunities on the power play and most of them were obvious penalties."
Bobby Ryan replied less than seven minutes later for the Ducks (3-6-1), but Stempniak converted a blind backhand pass from Stajan 3:58 into the third period.
Kaberle increased Toronto's lead to 5-2 with a power-play goal at the 6:11 mark, and Hagman whacked in his own rebound four minutes later to complete the hat trick.
"It is fun to score," Hagman said. "But today, getting the win felt real good."
"Most of the night, we played in their zone," Kaberle noted. "We used their penalties to our advantage and that makes the game simple."
Perry closed out the scoring with a meaningless goal with 6:33 remaining.
Jonas Hiller surrendered six goals on 39 shots in front of 14,291 fans at the Honda Center.
With files from The Canadian Press