Maple Leafs hold off Oilers
The Toronto Maple Leafs didn't spoil their special occasion Saturday night, while the Edmonton Oilers continued their perilous slide.
Mats Sundin and John Pohl each scored a pair of goals to lead Torontoto a4-3 win at Air Canada Centre. Sundin's third period score, his seventh goal in 10 games, was the winner.
"He's so unbelievable," Pohl said of Sundin. "He's a way better leader and a better guy than he is a player — and that says a lot, because he's so good."
Beforethe game, Toronto's 1967Stanley Cup team was honoured. Among the players from the championship team who were present was Dave Keon, making a rare appearance after years of friction with the organization.
The current Maple Leafs squad never trailed against the Oilers and are 9-3-2 in their last 14 games.
With Montreal and the New York Islanders losing Saturday, Toronto (29-22-8) ended the night in sole possession of eighth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Andrew Raycroft kicked his right pad for a save in the dying seconds to preserve the win, one of 28 stops in the game. The netminder has started 20 consecutive games for the team.
Loss extends Oiler road woes
Ryan Smyth, Steve Staios and Marc-Antoine Pouliot — on a penalty shot—replied for Edmonton (28-26-5). The Oilers have now lost the first three games of a crucial seven-game road trip.
Dwayne Roloson stopped 31 shots, but the Oilers again couldn't help their goaltender with the necessary offensive results.
"Almost is not good enough any more," Smyth said. "It's about capitalizing on our chances and we haven't done that lately."
Edmonton have scored only four times so far on their trip, andonly 58 times in 28 road games overall this season.
With Minnesota winning on Saturday night, the Oilers now trail the Wild by eight points for the eighth and final spot.
Early in the first period, Edmonton failed to capitalize on their first two power plays, befitting a unit that ranks fourth-worst in theNHL. Raycroft came up big on the first opportunity with three key saves.
Toronto's ninth-ranked power play, conversely, scored on its first chance. The Leafs moved the puck around the perimeter expertly, with defenceman Tomas Kaberle feeding Sundin at the left faceoff circle and the captain snapping the puck intothe net before Roloson could slide across.
Pohl nets pair in second
Pohl started his big night byredirecting Bates Battaglia's pass from the corner past Roloson at the 4:31 mark of the second for a 2-0 lead.
Turnabout occurred just 47 seconds later, when the blue-line shot from Staios found the mark. Toronto's Carlo Colaiacovo and Oiler Patrick Thoresen collided in front of Raycroft on the play, hampering the Leaf netminder.
Pohl got his second midway through the period, picking up a rebound from a Chad Kilger shot and sending a backhand behind Roloson.
It was the first career two-goal game for the forward, who just returned to action Thursday after missing three games with a back injury.
Colaiacovo's tough night got worse late in the second when he was cited for hauling down Pouliot on a breakaway.
Pouliot beat Raycroft on the subsequent penalty shot with a backhand move very similar to the one Islander Frans Nielsen usedto beat the Toronto goalie in a shootout earlier in the week.
Oilers stage late rally
The Oilers put sustained pressure on the Leafs early in the third but could not score.
Sundin took over midway through the period, controlling the puck behind the Edmonton net and fighting off a check to score on a wraparound. Kaberle again assisted, as did Nik Antropov.
Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish pulled Roloson when Toronto took a penalty with just over two minutes left to give his team a two-man advantage —and the move paid off.
Ales Hemsky's shot found its way through a maze of legs to Smyth, who deflected it in with 63 seconds left.
The Oilers narrowly missed tying it at game's end but Raycroft made his pad save, with a rebound attempt ending up atop the Toronto net.
Both clubs return to action Tuesday night. The Oilers play in Ottawa, while the Maple Leafs host Boston.
With files from the Canadian Press