Preseason Game 46 – Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 3

Preseason Game 46
Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 3
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Centre Bell, Montréal, Québec

He was deft, decisive, and acrobatic.

Leaf goalie Andrew Raycroft had his mojo working last night. Thankfully, too, since it took a spectacular night from the Leafs’ new goaltending acquisition to help his penalty-happy mates rescue what looked like a disappointing evening here with a 4-3 win at the Bell Centre.

As frustrated by Rayroft as they were, the homeside and their rabid fans salivated when the Leafs, up 1-0 after a period, took a trio of penalties to open the middle and final frame.

Montréal capitalized with power play goals from Mark Streit in the second and Michael Ryder early in the third that tied it 3-3.

Matt Stajan made sure the Leafs would exit with their third win in four preseason games.

It was a fortunate bounce – one that allowed Stajan to shovel in a pass from Aleksander Suglobov at 13:53 of the third for the winning goal. Stajan, who had been in the penalty box for two Montréal goals, got a measure of redemption with the game winner.

“We’ve been buzzing around the net the past couple of games, so it was nice to get one to go in,” said Stajan, who played on a line with Suglobov and Alex Steen. Suglobov set up Stajan’s game winner, his second assist of the game to go with a first period goal.

Suglobov, with his second goal of the preseason, put the Leafs up 1-0.

Raycroft was simply brilliant. Just ask Kyle Chipchura, Chris Higgins and Radek Bonk, all of whom were shaking their heads after Raycroft saves in the first.

There were at least six more game-saving saves from Raycroft over the final two periods, including a show-stopper on Guillaume Latendresse. After being beaten by a Latendresse deke, Raycroft reached behind him with his stick and made a stunning last-second save. He dismissed it after the game.

“I actually didn’t play it that well, to be honest. I looked at him to go left, but he didn’t. I threw my stick back and I got lucky…On those ones, they look good, but you probably did something wrong,” Raycroft said.

Kyle Wellwood and Jeremy Williams got the Leafs ahead 3-2 with a pair of goals late in the second.

Everything the Leafs established in the first period was undone by a few moments of undisciplined play in the second.

With Montréal’s Brad Brown in the penalty box to start the second period (double minor for cross checking), Toronto got three straight penalties.

All three came within the opening five minutes, and went to Steen, Stajan, and Andy Wozniewski, tagged with minors.

They were at a disadvantage with penalty killing aces Steen and Stajan in the box.

Montréal, frustrated by Raycroft in the first period, finally got a break with Saku Koivu stuffing home a loose puck from the right side of the net at 3:10 of the second.

Koivu got his stick on the puck as he was flying through the air after tripping over a Leaf defender. The puck took a highly favourable bounce past several players and wound up at the side of the net, in a perfect spot for Koivu to take a whack at it.

Just over two minutes later, Wozniewski took a borderline tripping call with Stajan still in the penalty box. Seconds after that, Craig Rivet’s bullet slap shot from inside the blue line sailed over Raycroft’s glove hand.

The Bell Centre is a fun place even at the gloomiest of times for the Canadiens.

With Rivet scoring the go-ahead goal, the place was echoing with roars from the sellout crowd. The Leafs did very well to silence the Habs’ wonderful crowd by scoring a pair of goals inside the final six minutes of the period.

Story originally published in The Toronto Star, September 24, 2006

1st Period
TOR GOAL – 02:54 – Suglobov (Williams, Westrum)

MTL PEN – 05:21 – Souray, roughing
MTL PEN – 07:28 – Benoit, hooking
TOR PEN – 12:55 – Gill, slashing
TOR PEN – 17:22 – Brown, cross checking double minor

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 01:09 – Steen, hooking
MTL GOAL – 03:10 – Koivu (Streit, Rivet)
TOR PEN – 04:20 – Stajan, hooking
TOR PEN – 05:29 – Wozniewski, tripping
MTL PP2 GOAL – 05:42 – Streit (Johnson, Souray)
MTL PEN – 08:41 – Murray, tripping
MTL PEN – 13:03 – Benoit, interference
TOR PEN – 13:03 – Newbury, interference
TOR GOAL – 14:02 – Wellwood (Battaglia, Wozniewski)
MTL PEN – 14:55 – Komisarek, clipping
TOR PEN – 14:55 – Gill, roughing
TOR GOAL – 16:01 – Williams (Suglobov, Westrum)
MTL PEN – 16:36 – O’Byrne, interference
MTL PEN – 18:03 – Benoit, hooking

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 00:23 – Stajan, hooking
MTL PP GOAL – 01:00 – Ryder (Koivu, Streit)
TOR PEN – 01:54 – Gill, holding
TOR PEN – 02:35 – Steen, hooking
TOR PEN – 07:58 – Newbury, hodling
TOR GOAL – 13:53 – Stajan (Suglobov, Steen)
TOR PEN – 19:51 – Antropov, tripping

TOR – Raycroft (W, 32-35)
MTL – Price (10-11), Huet (L, 16-19)

TOR – 8+12+10 = 30
MTL – 9+9+17 = 35

TORGoaltenders: Justin Pogge, Andrew Raycroft. Defence: Brendan Bell, Brad Brown, Hal Gill, Jay Harrison, Ian White, Andrew Wozniewski. Forwards: Nikolai Antropov, Bates Battaglia, Chad Kilger, Kris Newbury, Jeff O’Neill, Michael Peca, Matt Stajan, Alexander Steen, Alexander Suglobov, Kyle Wellwood, Erik Westrum, Jeremy Williams.
MTLGoaltenders: Cristobal Huet, Carey Price. Defence: André Benoit, Mike Komisarek, Ryan O’Byrne, Craig Rivet, Sheldon Souray, Mark Streit. Forwards: Radek Bonk, Kyle Chipchura, Christopher Higgins, Mike Johnson, Saku Koivu, Andrei Kostitsyn, Alex Kovalev, Guillaume Latendresse, Corey Locke, Garth Murray, Michael Ryder, Sergei Samsonov.