for this game

Maple Leafs rally for sixth straight road win

Mar 23, 2008 - 3:34 AM
OTTAWA (Ticker) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs dug deep and came out on top.

Rookie Jiri Tlusty and Matt Stajan scored early in the third period to erase a deficit and lead the Maple Leafs to a 5-4 triumph over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

Kyle Wellwood, Alex Steen and Darcy Tucker also tallied and Vesa Toskala made 32 saves in his 27th consecutive start for Toronto (35-31-10), which climbed within four points of the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference despite the absence of injured captain Mats Sundin.

"This is a huge win for us," Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice said. "And with the players that we have out of the lineup, we could've given up the lead a second time and wilted, but we didn't. We just kept going and going. ... I'm proud of the way we're playing, and it's going to make for an interesting (final) two weeks (of the regular season)."

"We really needed these points to stay in the playoff fight, and once again, we played hard and got the win," Toskala added. "We just came out tonight and did our best, and that's been working for us."

Daniel Alfredsson, Cory Stillman, Martin Lapointe and Dany Heatley scored for Ottawa (41-27-7), which remained one point ahead of the idle sixth-place New York Rangers (39-26-10) in the East.

"It is very disappointing to go into the third period with the lead and come out with a loss," Stillman said. "But it was bound to happen, so we can turn it into a learning experience and make sure it doesn't happen again."

"Giving up two goals in the third period right away is something we can't do at this time of year," Ottawa's Mike Fisher said. "We beat ourselves tonight, but we had good emotion throughout. It certainly wasn't for lack of trying."

Alexei Ponikarovsky and defenseman Pavel Kubina each recorded a pair of assists for Toronto, which extended its road winning streak to six games and improved to 8-0-1 in its last nine away from home. The Maple Leafs also have won four straight meetings with the Senators.

"The way we're playing right now, it's everybody playing unbelievable," Steen said. "From (Toskala) on out, it just goes to show what keeping the faith can do for a team. Right now, we're playing some pretty good hockey."

Alfredsson opened the scoring 2:56 into the game. The rebound of defenseman Mike Commodore's shot popped into the air, and the Senators' captain put it past Toskala for his 38th goal of the season.

Toronto used its power play to grab the lead in the second period.

Kubina's one-timer from the top of the slot went wide of the left goalpost. But the puck caromed off the end boards to Wellwood, who buried it from the left faceoff circle at 4:14 to knot the contest at 1-1.

With 7:21 to go in the period, Steen received a pass from the bottom of the left circle by Ponikarovsky and fired the puck inside the right post for his 14th of the season and a 2-1 edge.

However, Ottawa scored three times in a span of 2:27 to take a 4-2 advantage.

Stillman beat Toskala high to the glove side during a power play at 15:04, and Lapointe redirected a pass from Fisher by the Finnish netminder 58 seconds later for a 3-2 lead.

"(Jason) Spezza made a good cross-ice pass to me and I felt I made a good shot," Stillman said of his goal. "Toskala got across fast and the puck hit his pad. Fortunately, it bounced to me and I got it on my backhand before swinging it to my forehand. I was confident I could score if I got a second opportunity."

"The puck was dumped in and I was able to outrace Kubina to it," Lapointe said of his tally. I tried to get separation but couldn't, so I knew I had to get the puck out front. I then skated around, looking for a clear area. Fisher made a good pass right on my stick. I had an open net, so I just had to tap it in."

On another power play, Andrej Meszaros' one-timer from the blue line went wide, but the carom off the end boards came right to Heatley, who tucked the puck inside the right post with 2:29 remaining for a two-goal bulge.

Instead of hanging their heads, the Maple Leafs battled back as Tucker buried the rebound of Kubina's blast from the left circle with 54 seconds to go, cutting the deficit to 4-3 after two periods.

"It was a big goal," Tucker said. "It got us back to within one goal and we knew we were one shot away from tying the game, so it gave us an opportunity to come out with a little bit of urgency in the third."

Tucker's teammates agreed the tally changed the course of the game.

"That goal at the end of the second was huge for us," Toskala said. "It gave us a chance to come out and get the win in the third period."

"We knew that was a big goal for us," Wellwood added. "They had been playing pretty good hockey, and to give that one up was going to be a little heartbreaking for them. Then we were able to come out strong in those first few minutes of the third."

Toronto continued the momentum early in the third, scoring twice in 41 seconds to move ahead.

"We found a way tonight," Stajan said. "We battled back, and we're not going to give up in this room. We're going to keep going right to the end."

"We showed a lot of fight and worked really hard for the two points," Steen added. "We don't quit."

Following a turnover in the neutral zone, Dominic Moore crossed the blue line on the right side and fed Tlusty, who deked and put a backhander past netminder Martin Gerber from alone on the doorstep at 1:33 to forge a tie.

On a give-and-go, Stajan received a return pass from Jason Blake and tapped in the puck at 2:14 for a 5-4 lead.

"Obviously, every win is enormous this time of year, and that makes every goal big," Stajan said. "So it's nice to be able to score the one that goes down as the winner."

Gerber finished with 29 saves for the Senators, who had their three-game home winning streak snapped and fell to 12-1-0 when scoring four goals.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TORONTO 0 3 2 5
    OTTAWA 1 3 0 4 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: OTT - DANIEL ALFREDSSON 38 (MIKE COMMODORE, JASON SPEZZA)
    2:56
    2ND PRD: TOR - KYLE WELLWOOD 8 (PAVEL KUBINA, ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY)
    4:14
    TOR - (PP) ALEX STEEN 14 (ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY, KYLE
    WELLWOOD) 12:39
    OTT - (PP)

    Mar 22 9:37 PM
  • 42
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    McTool Added 5 roots

    Maple Leafs 5, Senators 4  3rd - 0:44Mar 22 9:36 PM
  • 37
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    RUWTbot Added 17 roots (Close Finish)

    Maple Leafs 5, Senators 4  3rd - 1:27Mar 22 9:29 PM
  • 20
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    bigbelly Added 5 roots

    Maple Leafs 5, Senators 4  3rd - 5:28Mar 22 9:25 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 5
    OTTAWA 4
    3RD PRD: TOR - MATT STAJAN 16 (JASON BLAKE, DARCY TUCKER) 2:14

    Maple Leafs 5, Senators 4  3rd - 17:46Mar 22 9:03 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 4
    OTTAWA 4
    3RD PRD: TOR - JIRI TLUSTY 7 (DOMINIC MOORE) 1:33

    Maple Leafs 4, Senators 4  3rd - 18:27Mar 22 9:03 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TORONTO 0 3 3
    OTTAWA 1 3 4 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: OTT - DANIEL ALFREDSSON 38 (MIKE COMMODORE, JASON SPEZZA)
    2:56
    2ND PRD: TOR - KYLE WELLWOOD 8 (PAVEL KUBINA, ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY)
    4:14
    TOR - (PP) ALEX STEEN 14 (ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY, KYLE
    WELLWOOD) 12:3

    Mar 22 8:40 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 3
    OTTAWA 4
    2ND PRD: TOR - DARCY TUCKER 17 (PAVEL KUBINA, TOMAS KABERLE) 19:06

    Maple Leafs 3, Senators 4  2nd - 0:54Mar 22 8:40 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 2
    OTTAWA 4
    2ND PRD: OTT - (PP) DANY HEATLEY 37 (ANDREJ MESZAROS, CORY STILLMAN)
    17:31

    Maple Leafs 2, Senators 4  2nd - 2:29Mar 22 8:37 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 2
    OTTAWA 3
    2ND PRD: OTT - MARTIN LAPOINTE 5 (MIKE FISHER) 16:02

    Maple Leafs 2, Senators 3  2nd - 3:58Mar 22 8:35 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 2
    OTTAWA 2
    2ND PRD: OTT - (PP) CORY STILLMAN 24 (JASON SPEZZA, CHRISTOPH
    SCHUBERT) 15:04

    Maple Leafs 2, Senators 2  2nd - 4:56Mar 22 8:29 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 2
    OTTAWA 1
    2ND PRD: TOR - (PP) ALEX STEEN 14 (ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY, KYLE WELLWOOD)
    12:39

    Maple Leafs 2, Senators 1  2nd - 7:21Mar 22 8:26 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 1
    OTTAWA 1
    2ND PRD: TOR - KYLE WELLWOOD 8 (PAVEL KUBINA, ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY)
    4:14

    Maple Leafs 1, Senators 1  2nd - 15:46Mar 22 8:09 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TORONTO 0 0
    OTTAWA 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: OTT - DANIEL ALFREDSSON 38 (MIKE COMMODORE, JASON SPEZZA)
    2:56
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TOR 9 9
    OTT 14 14
    GOALIES: TOR - VESA TOSK

    Mar 22 7:43 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 0
    OTTAWA 1
    1ST PRD: OTT - DANIEL ALFREDSSON 38 (MIKE COMMODORE, JASON SPEZZA)
    2:56

    Maple Leafs 0, Senators 1  1st - 17:04Mar 22 7:16 PM
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    Maple Leafs vs. SenatorsMar 22 3:24 PM
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    Maple Leafs vs. SenatorsMar 9 5:06 PM
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    Maple Leafs vs. SenatorsMar 4 8:29 AM