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Maple Leafs beat Avs, help playoff bid

Mar 25, 2011 - 4:22 AM
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Nikolai Kulemin scored a pair of first-period goals, James Reimer turned aside 25 shots and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Colorado Avalanche, 4-3, at Pepsi Center.

Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel also tallied for the Maple Leafs, who have won three straight games and closed to within three points of eighth-place Buffalo in the Eastern Conference.

"I thought generally we played pretty well," said Toronto head coach Ron Wilson. "The type of team we are, we are going to have some breakdowns every once in a while, and [Reimer] made some big saves. He seemed to be struggling a little bit with rebound control, but he made a lot of big saves towards the end."

Matt Duchene, Daniel Winnik and Ryan O'Reilly lit the lamp for Colorado, which had put together back-to-back shootout wins following a 1-18-2 stretch. Erik Johnson registered three assists and Brian Elliott made 23 saves.

"We had a couple of costly turnovers tonight," Duchene said.

Winnik opened the scoring with a short-handed goal 5:55 into the contest. Kulemin put Toronto on the board less than five minutes later and banked the puck off Elliott from behind the net to make it 2-1 with 5.9 seconds left in the first period.

Bozak gave the Maple Leafs a two-goal cushion at 9:37 of the middle stanza, but O'Reilly countered with a power-play goal three minutes later.

Elliott was not present at the beginning of the third period because of a skate problem. Peter Budaj took over between the pipes long enough to yield a power-play goal to Kessel at 3:02. Elliott returned to the crease shortly after Kessel made it 4-2.

Mike Brown appeared to increase Toronto's lead to 5-2 at 10:35. However, the goal was wiped out by a kicking motion.

Duchene pounced on a loose puck below the right circle to trim the deficit to 4-3 with 8:06 remaining, but Colorado was unable to complete the comeback.

Game Notes

Dion Phaneuf and Clarke MacArthur both had two assists for Toronto...Duchene extended his point streak to a career-high six games (5g, 4a)...Johnson surpassed 100 career points...Colorado forward Mark Olver (head) and defenseman Ryan Wilson (knee) both left the game and did not return.