Posted February 08, 2013 on
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Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are optimistic after Phil Kessel snapped a lengthy goal drought and ended another for the team's power play.
The Maple Leafs' recent results in Montreal could provide another reason for encouragement.
Kessel will try to contribute again as Toronto seeks to sweep a three-game trip with its fifth win in the past six visits to the rival Canadiens on Saturday night.
Kessel's 136 goals over the last four-plus seasons put him among the league's top 10, but he had all kinds of trouble increasing that total through the first 10 games this year. He finally got his first of the season with the game-winner late in the third period in a 3-2 victory at Winnipeg on Thursday.
"You just hope that he can use this as a building block," coach Randy Carlyle said. "Goal scorers have streaks, and we hope this is the start of a streak."
The goal also snapped Toronto's 0-for-14 drought on the power play to start this month, and lifted the Maple Leafs (6-5-0) to their third consecutive road win.
"We've got to feel fortunate that our power play finally came through and our top goal scorer finally hit the back of the net," Carlyle said. "That's a great sign for us."
Toronto, 5-1-0 away from home this season, has a pair of one-goal wins on its current trip, and it beat its next opponent by that same margin in the season opener.
Kessel assisted on both of his team's goals - from Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak - in that 2-1 victory at Montreal on Jan. 19. The Maple Leafs went 2 for 5 on the man advantage while the Canadiens also scored their lone goal, Brian Gionta's third-period tally, on the power play.
Kessel has three goals and five assists while helping Toronto to a 4-1-0 mark in its last five games at Montreal.
The Canadiens (6-3-1) will try to limit the winger and keep from adding to their first losing streak of the season. After ending a run of five consecutive home victories with Wednesday's 2-1 loss to Boston, Montreal suffered a heart-breaking 5-4 shootout defeat in Buffalo the next night.
The Sabres rallied from two goals down in the final period and scored the tying goal with 2 seconds left in regulation.
"This was one we obviously wanted to win, but again we're going to have to turn the page, learn from our mistakes and look towards the next game," center Tomas Plekanec told the Canadiens' official website.
Carey Price, boasting a 1.74 goals-against average, figures to be back in net Saturday after Peter Budaj gave him a night off.
Plekanec scored twice Thursday, giving him a team-best six goals, and P.K. Subban extended his point streak to four games - all of his appearances since ending his holdout - with his second goal.
The defenseman, though, has no goals and three assists in 12 career games against Toronto. Plekanec has eight points in his past nine in the series.
Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who has no points in his last 10 games overall, might have an opportunity to end his offensive woes. He has two goals and four assists during a five-game point streak in Montreal.
Mikhail Grabovski, without a point in his last six contests, has three goals and three assists in his last four at the Bell Centre.
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AROUND THE WEB
Are Phil Kesselâs days in Toronto numbered? Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reported on TSN 1050âs Mike Richards Show this morning that the buzz in NHL management circles is that the 25 year old winger could be on the trade market before the April 3rd deadline and that feelers have put out to the Leafs GM Dave Nonis. According to Dreger, Nonis has communicated that the...
After 46 shots and 11 games, Phil Kessel has scored his first goal on the season, and what a crucial goal it was. Kessel`s goal came with less then five minutes remaining in the third and ended up being the decisive goal as the Leafs won the game. This is how my night on Twitter went...Down 2-1 in the third with less than 10 minutes remaining...----------------------------------...
PLAY NICE, CHILDREN
It's no secret that the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens do not get along. It's also no secret that teams get chippy during one-sided blowouts, as the game between the two teams on Saturday night demonstrated in clear fashion. In a melee along the boards at about 11:30 into the third period, Max Pacioretty decided to put Mikhail Grabovski into a headlock....
Reality is setting in for the Winnipeg Jets and it must be hard for the fans to see, even those who look with the biggest blinders. The sum of the parts which make up the Jets is not enough to get the job done. It was enough to allow Phil Kessel to score his first goal of the year on the power play.
Now, with holes appearing almost daily, it creates all sorts of crazy ideas and theories abo...
Vote for the Coverage Play of the Week and enter to win a $100 gift certificate to the Pro Shop at TD Garden. First read the official rules, then completely fill out the entry form for your chance to win.
Caps legend and current associate goaltending coach Olaf Kolzig hasn't played in an NHL game since the 2008-9 season, when he suited up for the Tampa Bay Lightning. But this year, two different Kolzig bobbleheads became available. One was given out at the Portland Pirates game on Jan. 19 (limited to 1,000), while the other will be given out at the Inova Blood Drive on March 23rd...
Did Mikhail Grabovski bite Max Pacioretty?
Grabovski received 2 for roughing and a 10, Pacioretty just a 10.
Therrien on Grabovski/Pacioretty: "I saw the bite, it’s clear on the video, I’m sure the league is going to pay attention to that" #Habs
— Dave Stubbs (@Dave_Stubbs) February 10, 2013
Your Canadiens, who have played extremely well through the first ten games of the season, are a regulation loss away from being behind the Toronto Maple Leafs in the standings. And guess who's in town Saturday...
That's what back-to-back losses can do to you in this league, and while it was crucial that the Habs were able to at least grab a point in the standings, losing...
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
- I see where Chuck Fletcher has given Minnesota coach Mike Yeo an early season vote of confidence, which is nice. Except you have to wonder what Wild owner Craig Leopold is thinking of his hockey team after spending all that money and getting less than ordinary results.
- George McPhee is shoveling it pretty well these days, attributing...
Phil Kessel scored his first goal of the season late in the third period to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 on Thursday.
Tyler Bozak scored short-handed and Matt Frattin added a goal for the Leafs, who won their second straight of a three-game road trip.
Kessel's goal ended a frustrating drought for the top-line winger who had 37 goals last season.
The 6-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens Saturday was not solely an offensive blowout for the Toronto Maple Leafs, it was a thorough physical and mental domination from start to finish, reminiscent of beatdowns that they have received from the Boston Bruins in recent years.
Leo Komarov and Tyler Bozak scored in the first, James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel extended the lead in...