The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 in what will probably end up being one of the best games of the year for the team. That's kind of depressing but the team's performance was also encouraging in light of the recent spate of changes. The big story going into the night was Phil Kessel's 14 game goal drought. After a dirty hit by Zdeno Chara on Mikhail Grabovski (hereafter known as the first one) Kessel broke his slump by batting a Dion Phaneuf rebound. Grabbo gave the Leafs a 2-1 lead and he celebrated pretty demurely.
Kessel's first goal against his former team showed his hand-eye skill but it didn't come close to matching the stunning beauty of his second in which he undressed Andrew Ference. Not to be outdone, Mikhail Grabovski took the puck, raced down the ice, embarrassed Dennis Seidenberg, and then sniped the winner short side on Tim Thomas with just over a minute left. He then skated by the Bruins' bench and gave them a picture perfect fist pump to let them know that they cannot break him.
In goal, James Reimer picked up his sixth road win on the strength of a 32 save performance. He made a huge save with 20 second left to preserve the win. His save percentage is at .928 this year. I have no idea what this means going forward but I like it.
Game in six and more thoughts after the jump.
Mikhail Grabovski's line, as James Mirtle predicted (dammit), was the one to face the brunt of Zdeno Chara's ice time. He also faced the brunt of two dirty hits. The first saw Chara drive Grabbo's head into the boards and the second was pretty similar to Hedman's hit on Crosby. It left Grabovski wobbling and out of sorts.
While it's great to say Grabovski's made out of adamantium it was scary to see him getting double shifted in the third period. Nick Kypreos, who would be an expert on what addled brains can lead to, noted that it seemed like no trainer attended to Grabovski seriously. The Leafs shut down Colton Orr immediately after he hit his head so letting Grabbo keep playing is suspect. Hopefully it has no repercussions.
Chemmy tweeted earlier that the odds of Phil Kessel getting 0 goals on 58 shots based on his career shooting percentage were 1 in 450. If he had taken five shots without scoring the odds would have jumped to 1 in 730. Instead, he scored two goals on four shots. I like that stat better.
Keith Aulie still has rough edges in his skating but he had another strong game. He played over 22 minutes including almost 3 on the penalty kill. He picked up a couple of rare penalties although only the latter was really his fault.
Joffrey Lupul picked up his first two points, assists, as a Maple Leaf.
- Dion Phaneuf had an off night. Patrice Bergeron outmuscled him in front of the net to give the Bruins their 3-2 lead. Luckily he was saved by his outstanding forward mates.
Speaking of outstanding forwards, Grabovski, Kessel, and Nikolai Kulemin give the Leafs three players in the top 30 goal scorers in the NHL.