for this game

Toskala impressive as Maple Leafs beat Predators

Dec 5, 2007 - 4:18 AM
By Jeff Lieberman PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

TORONTO (Ticker) - The Toronto Maple Leafs made the most of the few opportunities they had Tuesday night - and Vesa Toskala did the rest.

Toskala made 34 saves and Wade Belak scored his first goal in nearly four years to lead the Maple Leafs to their third consecutive victory, a 3-1 triumph over the Nashville Predators.

Nik Antropov and Matt Stajan also tallied for Toronto, which has not enjoyed a three-game winning streak since it won five straight from January 27-February 6.

Toskala's bid for his second career shutout ended when defenseman Shea Weber's shot defected off the stick of Maple Leafs blue-liner Tomas Kaberle and past the netminder, closing the deficit to 3-1 with 5:55 remaining.

"He's a guy that's going to get better as the season goes along," Predators coach Barry Trotz said of Weber. "He's a big physical force and he scored his first goal tonight. Last year he got 17 for us; he's going to be among the top defenseman in this league."

"It bounced off the ice, it took a crazy bounce and I couldn't react," Toskala said. "I saw it, it just happened so fast I couldn't cover it."

The 30-year-old Toskala has led the way during the recent stretch in which Toronto has not lost in regulation in four games (3-0-1).

He made seven saves in the first period, 14 in the second and 13 more in the third.

"We played well enough to win and our goaltender was the key player," Toronto coach Paul Maurice said. "When you get a performance like Vesa had you should win."

The Maple Leafs wasted little time getting on the scoresheet when Antropov scored his 11th goal of the season just 28 seconds into the contest. Defenseman Hal Gill's shot from the right point was blocked, but the puck bounced to Antropov, who fired a quick shot into the open net.

Captain Mats Sundin extended his franchise-best point-scoring streak to start the season to 16 home games with an assist on the goal. He has amassed 25 points during that stretch.

Toronto doubled its advantage at 1:34 of the second period on Stajan's impressive tally. Stajan batted the puck out of mid-air with a backhand into the top corner of the net to make it 2-0.

"I was just trying to make a spin around play and the puck went into the air. I was just trying to bat it out of the air and it handcuffed the goalie. I'll take it," Stajan said.

After Chad Kilger's blast from the blue line hit Predators defenseman Greg Zanon, Belak tucked in his first goal of the season from the right of the crease to give the Maple Leafs a 3-0 lead just 2:48 into the final session.

"The third goal hits me in the shoulder and goes right to Belak with a wide-open net," Zanon said. "There's nothing (Predators goaltender Chris) Mason could do, it's just one of those nights where they got some bounces and we couldn't put the puck in the net."

Belak, who has eight career goals, had not scored in his previous 143 contests. The 10-year veteran's last tally came on December 20, 2003.

"I was hoping some day it would happen again," Belak said.

Kaberle had two assists, giving him 302 in his eight-year career - all with the Maple Leafs - and tying him for third all-time among Toronto defensemen.

"It's nice when you look at stats like that in the summer, but it doesn't mean much in the season - the goal is to win games and make the playoffs," Kaberle said.

Mason faced just five shots in each period. The 15 shots were the fewest by Toronto and fewest allowed by Nashville this season.

The Predators suffered their first loss to an Eastern Conference opponent this season in five games.

"Not always when you play well and deserve to win do you win, and we played well enough but Toskala was the difference," Trotz said.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NASHVILLE 0 0 1 1
    TORONTO 1 1 1 3 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TOR - NIK ANTROPOV 11 (HAL GILL, MATS SUNDIN) 0:28
    2ND PRD: TOR - MATT STAJAN 6 (BOYD DEVEREAUX, TOMAS KABERLE) 1:34
    3RD PRD: TOR - WADE BELAK 1 (CHAD KILGER, TOMAS KABERLE) 2:48
    NAS - SHEA WEBER 1 (UNASSISTED) 14:05


    Dec 4 9:54 PM


  • NHL
    NASHVILLE 1
    TORONTO 3
    3RD PRD: NAS - SHEA WEBER 1 (UNASSISTED) 14:05

    Predators vs. Maple LeafsDec 4 9:44 PM


  • NHL
    NASHVILLE 0
    TORONTO 3
    3RD PRD: TOR - WADE BELAK 1 (CHAD KILGER, TOMAS KABERLE) 2:48

    Predators vs. Maple LeafsDec 4 9:27 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NASHVILLE 0 0 0
    TORONTO 1 1 2 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TOR - NIK ANTROPOV 11 (HAL GILL, MATS SUNDIN) 0:28
    2ND PRD: TOR - MATT STAJAN 6 (BOYD DEVEREAUX, TOMAS KABERLE) 1:34
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NAS 7 14

    Dec 4 9:05 PM


  • NHL
    NASHVILLE 0
    TORONTO 2
    2ND PRD: TOR - MATT STAJAN 6 (BOYD DEVEREAUX, TOMAS KABERLE) 1:34

    Predators vs. Maple LeafsDec 4 8:33 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NASHVILLE 0 0
    TORONTO 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TOR - NIK ANTROPOV 11 (HAL GILL, MATS SUNDIN) 0:28
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NAS 7 7
    TOR 5 5
    GOALIES: NAS - CHRIS MASON
    TOR - VESA

    Dec 4 8:12 PM


  • NHL
    NASHVILLE 0
    TORONTO 1
    1ST PRD: TOR - NIK ANTROPOV 11 (HAL GILL, MATS SUNDIN) 0:28

    Predators vs. Maple LeafsDec 4 7:40 PM
  • 5
    roots
    OddyOh Added 5 roots

    Predators vs. Maple LeafsDec 4 8:15 AM