With Toronto desperately needing to get out of town they found themselves in Pittsburgh last night for the first of two consecutive road games. Toronto and Pittsburgh were meeting for the second time this season. The first coming in Toronto when the Penguins handed it to the Leafs 6-4 two Saturdays ago.
Toskala was making his second consecutive start and McCabe was out of the line up (because he blows). Despite playing a great first period Toronto fell 1-0 off a Crosby PPG late in the first. This was only Crosby's 3rd goal all year and lucky for us they've all been against the Leafs (you're welcome Sid). After 20 minutes Toronto surprisingly looked like the better team. Strong play in all 3 zones, fast fore checking and solid back checking were very evident. One nice thing about Crosby's goal from a Leafs fan point of view...When he scored he was completely surrounded by Gill and Antropov...and when you saw the replay of the goal there were two things of note..1) This kid has some serious strength shoveling that puck home and 2) Bryan McCabe wasn't standing 6 feet away watching the whole play...humm very interesting...The Leafs play a strong defensive game and McCabe isn't in the line up...how odd.
The second period saw Toronto come out looking just like they did in the first...not like Toronto. They were fast both ways, fighting hard for the puck and creating lots of turnovers.
Steen scored on Fleury when Antropov did all the work and took it to the net. Alex got a huge rebound and put it away quickly to make it 1-1 about half way through the game. Although Toronto looked like they had the edge it seemed as though it was going to be a one goal game. Fleury was making some pretty huge saves (most notably the toe save on Kilger) and although Toronto was playing well it was going to be difficult to come out of tonight's game with 2 points...That is until Toronto let out it's secret weapon...
Okay so he wasn't really a secret weapon...more of a minor league call-up but hey, the way the Leafs have been playing lately they'll take anything. Jiri Tlusti was called up on Wednesday from the Marlies and unlike other call ups (who do very little and create several turnovers) Tlusti made sure everyone leaving the Mellon last night was saying "Who the hell is Tlusti?...no really, who is this douche?"
Tlusti scored in the third to make it 2-1 TOR. Although it was really a case of being in the right place at the right time. Kubina fanned on the shot that saw the puck drift about 5 feet forward where Steen was waiting to fire the "pass" from Kubina. Steen wired the shot and Jiri was just coasting in front of the net looking for a rebound and before he knew it he had a bruise on his ass (from the puck not rookie initiation) and the puck was behind Fleury...35 seconds later Kubina wired a pass down ice from his own red line to Tlusti who was breaking down the near side (with speed the majority of the Leafs have not seen on their team in quite some time) wired a shot high on Fleury's glove side to make it 3-1...And would eventually be the game winner. Kaberle Scored on a huge slap shot from the top of the circles on a power play to make it 4-1 Toronto and less than a minute after that Deveraux scored on a brutal turnover created Antropov's neanderthal like reach to make it 5-1. Gonchar scored on a 5 on 3 to make it 5-2 but it was too little too late for Pittsburgh and Toronto was just playing too strong.
So Toronto gets their first road win of the season (now 1-1-1) and if they play like this on Saturday in New York then they should be able to come out of this mini road trip 2-0. A few things to note from last nights game...
1) On October 13th when the Penguins won 6-4 Pittsburgh had 52 shots on net. Tonight they only had 25...
2) Gill and Kubina were a combined +3 and on Oct. 13th McCabe alone was a -3...I'm not sayin'...I'm just sayin'
3) McCabe took 3 penalty's on the 13th (holding, interference and tripping) Last night only one penality was given to the Leafs defence and it wasn't because of laziness. Kubina got a delay of game for flipping the puck over the glass...just a brain fart...nothing to do with being slower than your opponent.
4) Pittsburgh started Fleury (the first time an opposing team has started their #1 goalie against the leafs in 7 games)
5) Paul Maurice still looks like a bag of shit and needs to get some sleep. He also needs to get his ties from somewhere other than the salvation army.
So Toronto take on the struggling Rangers on Saturday. If New York was going to have a coming out party (scoring not "scoring") it would be against the Leafs. Let's just hope Raycroft doesn't start...or MaCabe.