Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 1
Saturday, February 19, 2000
Centre Molson, Montréal, Québec
Apparently the baby has already learned how to walk backwards.
Desperate to extract something positive from their current freefall, the Maple Leafs took solace in the “baby steps” they took in their tie against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday. But their route back to winning ways hit a roadblock in a 2-1 setback to the Montréal Canadiens last night.
The Maple Leafs have been plagued by mental errors and defensive ineptitude through their streak, and were done in when their scoring arsenal dried up. They couldn’t put a puck past Canadiens goalie Jeff Hackett, despite sustained pressure.
“When you’re playing like we are, you don’t generate anything and you don’t keep it out of your net,” Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. “To have any sense of how to win a hockey game, then you’ve got to do a couple of things. You can’t score a goal unless you get the puck back and we haven’t been doing that very well.”
It wasn’t that the Leafs played that badly, but they didn’t get the big plays when they needed them. Scoring against the Canadiens is no easy feat these days – the Habs are sixth in goals against and have allowed two or fewer in 13 of their past 17 games – but the Leafs seem to have lost their touch and confidence around the net.
Oleg Petrov and Sergei Zholtok scored for the Canadiens, who won their fifth in a row and moved to within four points of the New York Rangers for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Steve Thomas scored for the Leafs, who are winless in six and just three points ahead of the Ottawa Senators for first in the Northeast Division. The Senators have a game in hand in a race that means the difference between third place in the conference with home-ice advantage in the first round and sixth place and opening on the road.
Leafs goalie Curtis Joseph said he noticed during the game that the Senators had lost 3-1 to Vancouver, but the Senators were never discussed in their pre-game preparation.
“We don’t talk about the teams behind us. ‘Oh, they’re sneaking up on us’ would never creep into conversation before the game,” Joseph said, “and it shouldn’t. Not a chance.”
The game got off to a good start from a Leaf perspective with Thomas’ goal to put them up 1-0 for the first time in seven games. The Leafs emerged from the first with a lead for the first time in 12 games, dating back to a 5-4 OT win over Vancouver more than a month ago.
But the Canadiens erased that lead in the second. A clearing pass by Dainius Zubrus bounced past Bryan Berard’s glove and created a two-on-one with Petrov and Zholtok. Dmitri Yushkevich went down early and Petrov pulled the puck around him. Yushkevich flailed at the puck and knocked it past Joseph.
“Yushkie made a great play to swing around and get it,” Joseph said, “but it went right in the net.”
On the second goal, Zholtok gained the zone and instead of standing him up at the blueline, the Leafs pulled back and collapsed in front of Joseph, creating all sorts of traffic. Petrov darted for the net and created a screen.
“I just tried to look for it and tried to go down and make sure it didn’t go five-hole,” Joseph said.
The Leafs are coming off four games against sub-.500 teams and have one point to show for it.
“I thought tonight overall our effort and the way we played as a team was pretty good,” captain Mats Sundin said. “I thought in some ways we even played better in the Boston game, but we couldn’t get that goal.”
Story originally published in The Toronto Star, February 20, 2000
MTL PEN – 03:41 – Dykhuis, cross checking
MTL PEN – 10:29 – Malakhov, hooking
MTL PEN – 17:21 – Bouillon, high sticking
TOR PP GOAL – 18:12 – Thomas (Hoglund, Karpovtsev)
MTL GOAL – 01:35 – Petrov (Zholtok, Zubrus)
TOR PEN – 04:38 – Sundin, hooking
TOR PEN – 08:23 – Korolev, holding
MTL GOAL – 17:14 – Zholtok (Dykhuis, Petrov)
TOR PEN – 18:08 – Korolev, holding
MTL – Hackett (W, 25-26)
TOR – Joseph (L, 22-24)
SHOTS ON GOAL
MTL – 6+10+8 = 24
TOR – 14+4+8 = 26
MTL – Goaltenders: Jeff Hackett. Defence: Francis Bouillon, Patrice Brisebois, Karl Dykhuis, Vladimir Malakhov, Craig Rivet, Igor Ulanov, Eric Weinrich. Forwards: Jesse Bélanger, Benoît Brunet, Shayne Corson (A), Craig Darby, Trevor Linden, Oleg Petrov, Patrick Poulin, Martin Rucinsky, Turner Stevenson (A), Sergei Zholtok, Dainius Zubrus.
TOR – Goaltenders: Curtis Joseph. Defence: Bryan Berard, Cory Cross, Gerald Diduck, Tomas Kaberle, Alexander Karpovtsev, Danny Markov, Dmitri Yushkevich (A). Forwards: Kevyn Adams, Nikolai Antropov, Wendel Clark, Tie Domi, Jonas Hoglund, Igor Korolev, Yanic Perreault, Mats Sundin (C), Steve Thomas (A), Darcy Tucker, Garry Valk.
⭐ Oleg Petrov (MTL)
⭐⭐ Jeff Hackett (MTL)
⭐⭐⭐ Mats Sundin (TOR)