Found October 23, 2011 on The Slap Shot:
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Anytime the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens meet you know there is going to be fireworks. Saturday nights tilt between did not disappoint as both teams played on the edge and brought their “A” games to the table.

Early on in the first period Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer was struck in the head when Brian Gionta nailed him, causing Reimer’s mask to fall off.

Reimer was visibly shaken on the play, but the Ref neglected to call the play, which brings the question why as plays are supposed to be blown dead after the goaltender loses his mask, but I digress.

Reimer continued his work throughout the first period, but failed to show up for the second with whip-lash like symptoms as a result of the hit from Gionta.

According the Leaf doctors, Reimer was feeling quite right, so as a precaution they elected to have Reimer sit out the rest of the game. Reimer should be good to go for the next game, but anytime a player endures a headshot you want to err on the side of  caution.

That left Maple Leafs backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to mop up. Just 29 second into the second period Gus promptly gave up a goal when Montreal forward Andrei Kostitsyn put a wrist shot behind the young Swede, bringing the Montreal fans to their feet and causing the fans of the Blue and White to exclaim “here we go again”…

The Maple Leafs fought right back as Phil Kessel’s (who has five goals and four assists in his past six games against the Habs) steal of the puck led to his eighth goal of the season when he beat Montreal goaltender Carey Price to tie the game at two goals apiece.

Leafs Captain Dion Phaneuf added a power play marker at 04:19 of the second off a nice slap shot which eluded Price and put the Blue and White back on top.

The start of the third period was deja-vu all over again for Jonas Gustavsson as Montreal started the third period off with an early goal from Mike Cammalleri—a beautiful top shelf goal from outside the circle which completely fooled the Monster.

Montreal added another goal at the 09:28 mark of the third when Travis Moen tipped-in his second goal of the night, giving him four goals on the season and giving his team a 4-3 lead.

The line of Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur looked out of synch for the majority of the game, but all was forgiven when Kulemin ripped a wrist shot past Price for his second goal of the season, tying the game at 13:07 of the third.

The two sides played a spirit final seven minutes, exchanging a number of scoring opportunities, hits and unpleasantries, but neither side could beat their opponents goaltender, which meant there would be overtime.

Carey Price was caught jawing with Mikhail Grabovski ice after the third period—I am not sure what Price said to him, but whatever it was I hope he does it more often, as Grabovski got his revenge on Price, beating the Montreal puck stopper at 01:23 of overtime off a beautiful spin-a-rama move in front of Price which eluded the Montreal keeper.

Sorry, Mr. bigmouth—Grabovski looks to have had the last words, those words being “in your face Carey!!!!”

Grabovski’s goal (his third of the season) gave the Maple Leafs their fifth win of the season, bringing their record to 5-1-1 on the season, good enough for third in the Eastern Conference while Montreal slipped to a record of 1-4-2, which jettisoned the Canadiens to last place in the East—SWEET!

The Good—

The Maple Leafs pulled off a huge win without the benefit of having James Reimer between the pipes.

The Leafs power play continued to look good, going 2 for 7 on the night.

David Steckel continues to dominate in the face off circle and has added an element of jam to the Maple Leafs top line.

Dion Phaneuf had arguably his best game of the season and has looked consistently good all season long—perhaps he’s “back”?

After a few tough games, the Maple Leafs penalty kill went 4 for 4 against the Habs.

The Bad—

Luke Schenn continues to look out of sorts.

Despite some great efforts without the puck and on the forecheck, rookie forward Matt Frattin continues to be without his first NHL goal—he was robbed by Price during last night’s game.

Nazem Kadri continues to make poor decisions with the puck, often turning it over and he tends to have a penchant for passing close in, which leads me to believe he is over thinking things.

The Ugly—

James Reimer’s injury looks to be manageable, but if the Maple Leafs lose him for an extended amount of time this club is likely in trouble.

The Leafs won the game, but Montreal got two of the three game stars when Mikhail Grabovski (first star), Travis Moen (second star) and Lars Eller (third star) got the nod—what’s up with that? Where was Dion?

Until next time,

Peace!

THE BACKYARD
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