Roloson foils Maple Leafs with 58 saves
Determined not to remain league doormats, the Toronto Maple Leafs unleashed 61 shots Monday night — and still lost.
Dwayne Roloson set a career high with 58 saves and Josh Bailey scored 4:18 into overtime to propel the New York Islanders past the last-place Maple Leafs 4-3 at the Air Canada Centre.
Roloson was simply spectacular, stopping Jason Blake on a partial breakaway midway through the second period, taking a Mikhail Grabovski shot off the mask in the third and snaring a slick deflection from Niklas Hagman in the opening minute of OT.
It looked to be headed to a shootout when the Islanders regained control of the puck off Ian White's turnover and Bailey converted Sean Bergenheim's pass for the decisive goal, his sixth of the season.
"They hung around long enough and got a break," Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson said.
Roloson, enjoying a resurgence with New York at the age of 40, was peppered with 20 shots in the first period, 15 in the second, 23 in the third and three in OT.
"Roloson was outstanding," Islanders head coach Scott Gordon enthused. "We didn't tell Dwayne but we figured as long as they didn't hit 70 shots, we would be all right."
Toronto's 61 shots were a season high, and the most by the Maple Leafs since an 8-0 whitewash of the Detroit Red Wings in 1976.
"I don't ever remember a game like that," said Maple Leafs sniper Phil Kessel, who led all skaters with 12 shots. "I don't even know what to say after something like that."
"We threw everything at the goalie," Wilson pointed out. "Rolie was unbelievable — he was lucky at times — and he played great."
By comparison, Toronto's starting netminder Vesa Toskala surrendered three goals on three straight shots in the second period, but the Maple Leafs erased the deficit with a superlative offensive effort in the final 30 minutes of regulation.
Toskala played roughly 36 minutes before tweaking his groin and asking to be replaced by rookie Jonas Gustavsson, who stopped five of the six shots he faced.
Gustavsson out-guessed teenage sensation John Tavares on a partial breakaway with five minutes remaining in regulation, cooly kicking aside the rookie's shot with his right pad.
It marked the first pro appearance in Toronto for Tavares, a native of Mississauga, Ont., and former junior star with the Oshawa Generals and London Knights.
"I felt pretty good out there," he said. "I just wanted to play well.
"It's the city I grew up in. It was a lot of fun tonight and a great ending for us."
During a television timeout late in the second period, Vesa Toskala skated to the bench, spoke briefly with Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson and went to the dressing room. Toskala returned to the bench for the third period and served as backup to rookie Jonas Gustavsson.
"He tweaked his groin. He thought he did it on the second goal and it was starting to bother him," Wilson told reporters following the game.
"Just a little tweak," Toskala noted.
'It was unbelievable'
Jeff Tambellini, Matt Moulson and Bergenheim scored in regulation for the Islanders (9-8-7).
Kessel, Wayne Primeau and Hagman replied for the Maple Leafs (4-11-7), who, despite such an improbable loss, have earned at least a point in each of the last three games.
Tomas Kaberle and Matt Stajan had two assists apiece.
"It was unbelievable," Kessel said. "You know again, we didn't win.
"We've got to bury one more puck. It's unfortunate.
"We're going to keep battling and keep working. We've got a good hockey club here — we're better than our record shows."
Mark Streit sprung Islanders teammate Tambellini on a breakaway, and he beat Toskala high to the glove side to open the scoring 11:04 into the second period.
Moulson deflected Jack Hillen's point shot past Toskala 79 seconds later for his team-high 11th goal, and Bergenheim scored short-handed — again, high to the glove side — on a nifty rush at the 14:17 mark.
"It was pretty amazing when I got that goal," said Moulson, from the Toronto suburb of North York, Ont.
"It was just a tip-in, but that's my type of goal. When it went in, I just looked around and thought, 'Wow, I just scored at the ACC.'"
Toronto struck back with 4:28 left in the period, as Matt Stajan retrieved his stick from behind the net in time to set up Kessel's sixth goal in 10 games as a Leaf.
Primeau trimmed it to 3-2, spinning away from Islanders rearguard Brendan Witt to backhand in a rebound 2:10 into the third, and Hagman burst by Freddy Meyer and deked Roloson for the tying goal at 9:18.
With files from The Canadian Press