Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 2
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
The Montréal Canadiens went into their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs hoping to build on their Eastern Conference lead.
Not so fast.
Rookies Anton Stralman and Jiri Tlusty each scored two goals and the Maple Leafs beat the Canadiens 4-2 on Saturday night.
“We were looking for an easy game, but it wasn’t easy,” Christopher Higgins said.
It sure wasn’t.
Nik Antropov added three assists for the Maple Leafs, who are playing for pride after being eliminated from playoff contention Thursday night.
Tom Kostopoulos and Mathieu Dandenault scored for the Canadiens, who failed to put more distance between them and the second-place Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference title race. Montréal was sloppy Friday night in Buffalo, but escaped with a late-game comeback.
“I knew we would have a bit of a letdown after clinching a playoff spot, but I didn’t think it would last this long,” coach Guy Carbonneau said. “We have three games left. We have to regroup and end the regular season on a good note.”
Stralman got the game’s first goal after a scoreless first period when his wrist shot from the point at 7:25 of the middle period beat a screened Jaroslav Halak top corner on the stick side.
Dandenault tied it 58 seconds later when Maxim Lapierre’s shot banked off him and in behind Vesa Toskala, who made his 30th consecutive start.
Stralman put Toronto back ahead 2-1 with a wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle at 9:33 that beat a yet-again screened Halak.
Tlusty, who also had an assist, added a pair of goals at 3:17 and 15:16 in third period to seal the victory. Kostopoulos scored with 16 seconds remaining.
The playoff-bound Canadiens were without captain Saku Koivu and offensive defenceman Mark Streit, out with foot injuries. The extent of the injuries won’t be known until doctors take a closer look Monday in Montréal.
“Saku is a special player and he’s our leader, we’ll miss him for sure,” Higgins said after Saturday’s game. “Hopefully he’s not out for long. But one of our advantages on this team is that we have depth. Guys step in and contribute.”
Koivu and Streit were both injured during Friday’s 4-3 overtime win in Buffalo, but played the entire game – Koivu and Streit both assisting on the overtime winner by Higgins.
NOTES: Toronto has three games remaining: Tuesday at home against Buffalo, Thursday at home against Ottawa and next Saturday at Montréal.
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TOR PEN – 01:40 – Tlusty, holding
MTL PEN – 05:55 – Higgins, roughing
MTL PEN – 09:00 – O’Byrne, elbowing major + game misconduct
MTL PEN – 16:39 – team, too many men on the ice
TOR PEN – 00:46 – McCabe, elbowing
MTL PEN – 03:47 – Smolinski, hooking
MTL PEN SHOT – 05:48 – Higgins missed
TOR GOAL – 07:25 – Stralman (Antropov, Tlusty)
MTL GOAL – 08:23 – Dandenault (Lapierre, S. Kostitsyn)
TOR GOAL – 09:33 – Stralman
TOR PEN – 00:15 – Bell, interference
TOR GOAL – 03:17 – Tlusty (Antropov)
MTL PEN – 03:37 – Grabovski, high sticking
MTL PEN – 08:36 – Kostopoulos, holding
MTL PEN – 13:10 – team, too many men on the ice
TOR GOAL – 15:16 – Tlusty (Antropov, Kubina)
MTL PEN – 17:25 – Plekanec, slashing
TOR PEN – 17:25 – Antropov, cross checking
MTL GOAL – 19:44 – Kostopoulos (Brisebois)
TOR – Toskala (W, 22-24)
MTL – Halak (L, 33-37)
SHOTS ON GOAL
TOR – 10+12+15 = 37
MTL – 2+10+12 = 24
TOR – Goaltenders: Andrew Raycroft, Vesa Toskala. Defence: Tomas Kaberle (A), Staffan Kronwall, Pavel Kubina, Bryan McCabe (A), Anton Stralman, Ian White. Forwards: Nikolai Antropov, Mark Bell, Jason Blake, Boyd Devereaux, Dominic Moore, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Matt Stajan, Mats Sundin (C), Alexander Steen, Jiri Tlusty, Darcy Tucker, Jeremy Williams.
MTL – Goaltenders: Jaroslav Halak, Carey Price. Defence: Francis Bouillon, Patrice Brisebois, Josh Gorges, Roman Hamrlik, Andrei Markov (A), Ryan O’Byrne. Forwards: Steve Bégin, Mathieu Dandenault, Mikhail Grabovski, Christopher Higgins (A), Andrei Kostitsyn, Sergei Kostitsyn, Tom Kostopoulos, Alex Kovalev (C), Maxim Lapierre, Tomas Plekanec, Michael Ryder, Bryan Smolinski.
TOR – 36-33-10 (.519)
MTL – 44-25-10 (.620)
⭐ Anton Stralman (TOR)
⭐⭐ Jiri Tlusty (TOR)
⭐⭐⭐ Nikolai Antropov (TOR)