Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2 (SO)
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Seldom has the end of regulation in a tie game met with a standing ovation.
If the Toronto Maple Leafs found the post-regulation time success they have shown of late, coach Ron Wilson’s team might be doing just more than acting as spoilers in the NHL playoff race.
As it is, John Mitchell’s shootout goal combined with goalie Jonas Gustavsson’s stop on Brian Gionta gave last-place Toronto a 3-2 victory at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night — its fourth straight extra-time win after 12 losses in 13 overtime/shootout games to start the season.
“We’re a confident group in here we’re young, we’re having a lot of fun, obviously, coming into games and winning,” Mitchell said over the celebratory post-game music filtering out from the Maple Leafs’ dressing room’s inner sanctum. “Overtime and shootouts were kind of our nemesis earlier in the season but things have turned for us obviously in the past few weeks, so we’re just going to ride this. It’s great for our team and it’s great especially for all the young guys in here.”
Mitchell put Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak on his backside with a beautiful deke move similar to one he used in Toronto’s shootout win over New Jersey on Thursday.
“Goalies will catch on and what not and you’ll have to adjust,” said Mitchell. “If you can get a goalie sliding to one side on both pads, it’s real tough for him to get back and make that save unless he kind of just does a snow angel.”
Mitchell’s goal ended Montréal’s six-game winning streak once Gustavsson stopped Gionta in the Canadiens final shootout attempt.
“I thought everybody else tried to deke me, so I figured maybe he was going to shoot there,” said Gustavsson, now the winner of five straight starts. “We were lucky that time, I think it hit my arm there, actually I thought he was going to shoot the other side, but it was a great save. A relief.”
Toronto’s victory snapped a personal six-game winning streak for Halak and gave the Maple Leafs six wins in their last seven games. They’ve won three consecutive games overall and five straight at home.
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TOR PEN – 04:26 – Exelby, roughing
MTL PEN – 15:05 – Gomez, elbowing
TOR PP GOAL – 16:05 – Bozak (Kulemin, Phaneuf)
MTL GOAL – 19:26 – Gionta (Pouliot, Gomez)
TOR PEN – 02:44 – Kaberle, hooking
TOR PEN – 08:46 – Hanson, interference
TOR GOAL – 18:15 – Kessel (Kulemin, Bozak)
TOR PEN – 18:38 – Lundmark, high sticking double minor
TOR PEN – 12:31 – Sjostrom, tripping
MTL PP GOAL – 13:54 – Gionta (Gomez, Spacek)
TOR MISS – Kessel
MTL GOAL – A. Kostitsyn
TOR GOAL – Kulemin
MTL SAVE – Gomez
TOR GOAL – Mitchell
MTL SAVE – Gionta
TOR – Gustavsson (W, 25-27)
MTL – Halak (OTL, 31-33)
SHOTS ON GOAL
TOR – 13+10+7+3 = 33
MTL – 10+9+6+2 = 27
TOR – Goaltenders: Jean-Sébastien Giguère, Jonas Gustavsson. Defence: François Beauchemin (A), Garnet Exelby, Carl Gunnarsson, Tomas Kaberle (A), Dion Phaneuf (A), Luke Schenn. Forwards: Tyler Bozak, Mikhail Grabovski, Christian Hanson, Phil Kessel, Nikolai Kulemin, Jamie Lundmark, John Mitchell, Colton Orr, Wayne Primeau, Fredrik Sjostrom, Viktor Stalberg, Rickard Wallin.
MTL – Goaltenders: Jaroslav Halak, Carey Price. Defence: Hal Gill (A), Josh Gorges, Roman Hamrlik, Andrei Markov (A), Ryan O’Byrne, Jaroslav Spacek. Forwards: Mathieu Darche, Brian Gionta (A), Scott Gomez, Andrei Kostitsyn, Sergei Kostitsyn, Maxim Lapierre, Glen Metropolit, Travis Moen, Dominic Moore, Tomas Plekanec, Benoît Pouliot, Tom Pyatt.
TOR – 26-34-12 (.444)
MTL – 36-29-7 (.549)
⭐ John Mitchell (TOR)
⭐⭐ Brian Gionta (MTL)
⭐⭐⭐ Phil Kessel (TOR)