Game 645 – Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 3

Game 645
Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 3
Saturday, March 4, 2000
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario

The difference might simply have been this. Curtis Joseph stayed in his net all night stopping pucks.

Jeff Hackett didn’t.

Joseph’s ability to stand strong amidst a withering third-period comeback effort by the Montréal Canadiens contrasted sharply with the work turned in by Hackett, who made two horrible first-period errors while out of his crease playing the puck that cost his club dearly in a 4-3 loss to the Maple Leafs last night.

While Joseph seems to have emerged from his February slump, Hackett’s errors created scores by Leaf forwards Jonas Hoglund and Igor Korolev in the opening 14 minutes of the game, goals which erased an early Montréal 1-0 lead.

The Canadiens trailed the rest of the way.

“You have to give (Hackett) ‘A’ for effort,” said a disappointed Habs coach Alain Vigneault. “But in this league, it’s tough to come back against any team, let alone a team like the Leafs.”

Leaf rookie forward Nik Antropov, who scored in the second period and was the game’s first star, was more succinct.

“Two goals, two assists for Hackett,” said the 6-foot-5 Kazakh.

Steve Thomas also scored for the Leafs. Benoît Brunet scored twice for Montréal, with Eric Weinrich adding the other.

The result prevented the surging Habs from gaining any ground in their effort to chase down the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

Pittsburgh defeated Edmonton to move into seventh place in the east with 68 points, four ahead of Montréal, while the idle New York Rangers hold down eighth spot with 67 points.

It was the fifth and final meeting of the season between the Leafs and Canadiens. The Leafs finished the season series with four wins against one loss, with three victories coming at the Air Canada Centre.

With Ottawa winning against Atlanta and Florida earning a tie against St. Louis, the Eastern Conference standings are more bunched than ever with the Leafs heading out today on a difficult four-game road trip to Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa.

The Leafs, Panthers and Philadelphia Flyers are now all tied with 80 points, while fifth-place Washington has 78 and the sixth-place Senators have 77.

The Leafs are officially second in the conference today over Florida by virtue of having played fewer games.

The Leafs welcomed Thomas back last night after he had missed Wednesday’s game in Florida with a sore foot. And defenceman Chris McAllister dressed for the first time since January 27 against the New York Rangers.

To make room for Thomas and McAllister, winger Wendel Clark and rearguard Cory Cross sat out.

The Habs scored first on a power play when Weinrich’s wrist shot appeared to hit a Leaf as it skittered in toward Joseph and beat the Leaf goalie on the stick side at 5:19 of the first.

The Leafs were whistled for another questionable minor to Dmitri Yushkevich 23 seconds later, but were saved when Hackett dropped his first stink bomb of the period.

Just before that, Hackett had stoned Mats Sundin on a breakaway from centre, the second time in two games the Leaf captain had failed on a clear break from centre.

Then the Montréal goalie inexplicably charged from his net to chase a loose puck at his own blue line even though Leaf forward Darcy Tucker clearly had both the angle and a two-step lead.

Tucker easily chipped the puck past Hackett, skipped down the side boards then fed the puck in front to Korolev for an easy open- netter at 7:39.

And just over five minutes later, Hackett went to play the puck behind his own net with lots of time to make a play. He tried to send it safely along the boards, but Thomas squeezed his body against the wall and blocked the pass.

The puck bounced across to the other side to Hoglund, who buried the puck from a bad angle before Hackett could get back in position.

Goals from Antropov and Thomas made it 4-1 for the home side in the second. Hackett, meanwhile, didn’t let his first-period mistakes get to him, and made a series of good stops, including back-to-back blocks on Sundin drives.

“We showed a lot of character,” said Brunet.

“We gave them a 4-1 lead but never quit.

“We just have to start another streak on Monday (at home against Atlanta).”

Story originally published in The Toronto Star, March 5, 2000

1st Period
TOR PEN – 04:33 – Diduck, high sticking
MTL PP GOAL – 05:19 – Weinrich (Koivu)
TOR PEN – 05:43 – Yushkevich, holding
TOR SH GOAL – 07:39 – Korolev (Tucker)
TOR GOAL – 13:09 – Hoglund (Thomas)

MTL PEN – 14:32 – Weinrich, holding
MTL PEN – 17:28 – Petrov, hooking

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 00:30 – Karpovtsev, interference
MTL PEN – 01:33 – Zholtok, hooking
TOR GOAL – 09:42 – Antropov (Sundin, Perreault)
MTL PEN – 10:04 – Bouillon, roughing
TOR PP GOAL – 10:26 – Thomas (Karpovtsev, Hoglund)
MTL GOAL – 11:15 – Brunet (Koivu)
MTL PEN – 12:06 – Rucinsky, cross checking
TOR PEN – 12:06 – Diduck, roughing
MTL PEN – 12:06 – Stevenson, high sticking
TOR PEN – 13:53 – Antropov, roughing
MTL PEN – 13:53 – Souray, roughing

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 00:25 – Corson, unsportsmanlike conduct
TOR PEN – 00:25 – Domi, unsportsmanlike conduct
MTL PEN – 02:34 – Corson, fighting major
TOR PEN – 02:34 – Domi, fighting major
TOR PEN – 06:59 – McCauley, holding
TOR PEN – 12:19 – Sundin, hooking
MTL PP GOAL – 13:53 – Brunet (Corson, Koivu)

TOR – Joseph (W, 26-29)
MTL – Hackett (L, 24-28)

TOR – 11+13+4 = 28
MTL – 6+10+13 = 29

TORGoaltenders: Curtis Joseph. Defence: Bryan Berard, Gerald Diduck, Tomas Kaberle, Alexander Karpovtsev, Danny Markov, Dmitri Yushkevich (A). Forwards: Kevyn Adams, Nikolai Antropov, Tie Domi, Jonas Hoglund, Igor Korolev, Chris McAllister, Alyn McCauley, Yanic Perreault, Mats Sundin (C), Steve Thomas (A), Darcy Tucker, Garry Valk.

MTLGoaltenders: Jeff Hackett. Defence: Francis Bouillon, Patrice Brisebois, Karl Dykhuis, Scott Lachance, Craig Rivet, Sheldon Souray, Eric Weinrich. Forwards: Benoît Brunet, Shayne Corson (A), Craig Darby, Saku Koivu (C), Trevor Linden, Oleg Petrov, Patrick Poulin, Martin Rucinsky, Turner Stevenson (A), Jason Ward, Sergei Zholtok.

TOR – 35-20-7-3 (.615)
MTL – 27-28-7-3 (.492)


Nikolai Antropov (TOR)
⭐⭐ Steve Thomas (TOR)
⭐⭐⭐ Benoît Brunet (MTL)