Last year the Leafs missed the playoffs by 1 point. While you could point to any number of terrible games as the one that cost the team a playoff spot three came against the Leafs' arch rivals. The irony of that quote below is that in all three of those games the Habs' goalie did his best St. Patrick impression and stole the extra points from the Leafs. Last night was a measure of payback although the theft was nowhere near as blatant as the aforementioned trio of games.
The Leafs actually stormed out of the gates and looked determined to run the Habs out of their own building in front of a boisterous crowd that featured a large representation of buds fans. Kaberle scored an early powerplay goal on a long shot that took a slight deflection. Of course, things being as they are the Leafs didn't finish enough of their chances and the Habs tied it up when Pony tipped in a Komisarek shot.
The Habs quickly skated into the ascendancy as the Leafs began to get into penalty trouble culminating in a 5 on 3 goal by Chris Higgins. The rest of the game was typically entertaining as the teams traded chances much as they did in the season finale last year. In the end the difference was Toskala's goaltending as Cristobal (not quite Cristo-Wall tonight) let in Matt Stajan's long distance slapshot with just over a minute to give the Leafs faithful a fun night out in Montreal.
That makes four strong performances on the road by the Leafs and thankfully they have two more games on the road to come. It's the age old story of a team trying to impress the home crowd but they need to realise that the fans just want wins.
The Leafs can look forward to Mark Bell and Kyle Wellwood returning to the lineup as the former's suspension has been served and the latter looks to be fully recovered from his groin injury. It will make for some interesting decisions as Jiri Tlusty has looked good enough to displace Simon Gamache from the Steen-Stajan line. Gamache has played enough game that he will have to pass through waivers to get down to the Marlies. John Pohl is another player that has disappeared since a decent enough start. There will be a lot of difficult decisions prior to the senators game but things are starting to look up for the Leafs.
In Marlies news, they are awesome. By Habs reasoning that means that the Leafs have the better future. It also means that MLSE can build a great team. Now let's try to move that knowledge up to the NHL level eh lads?
The Other End of the Rink
- Robert L, Eyes On The Prize
The Leafs stole one tonight, or were handed it, depending on your take.
Who was the Leafs' Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Ian White (2 assists, 24:43 TOI)
Alex Ponikarovsky (2 assists)
Matt Stajan (1 assist and game winning goal)
Vesa Toskala (32 saves on 34 shots)