Leafs blow two two-goal leads against visiting Carolina, then win in overtime and avoid the shootout on a goal by Ken Klee, of all the candidates: Great game to watch, except if you were standing on the bench coaching.
Get used to it, writes Damien Cox, noting one game within this game that caught my eye as well:
"Maybe the hero ends up being someone like Tomas Kaberle, beaten twice by Erik Cole for breakaways but able to save a sure goal on one of them by never giving up and ultimately using his lumber to hook Cole's stick."
Cole had his own moment, scoring a goal that was prettier than any I've seen this year -- on a partial breakaway he eluded a diving Kaberle, pulled the puck back to the forehand then tucked a one-hander in past Belfour's pokecheck.
The ingredients: Two well-rested teams, a good strong pace, some solid checks landed. Yes, there were a couple of dives (or at least going down too easily, Kilger and Cullen duping the refs), and how Klee got away with riding Brind'Amour into the net as Carolina pressed for a late equalizer makes you wonder where the officials were looking, and the Air Canada Centre ice surface looked in midseason form, the puck taking crazy bounces and a number of players going for unscheduled falls (including Tverdosky, on a play that Tucker turned into the opening goal), but all in all, fast and furious and very little not to like unless you were a Carolina Hurricane, Belfour stopping Brind'Amour on a breakaway just before the game-winner was scored. Why, even Marius Czerkawski had some jump.
And on yesterday's subject of youth: Three of the best players on the ice came from that crowd -- Steen and Stajan of the Leafs (the Kid Line scored a goal, Steen tipping in a McCabe shot, and Stajan had a shorthanded score), and Staal from the Canes with two assists. (as for the best, I'd go with Cole).
Other news around the game: Karel Pilar is back, and says he could be ready to play by Christmas. Cam Ward, Carolina's standout young standup goalie, was blaming himself afterward for a misplayed pass that ended up that Stajan goal. Jeff O'Neill was held pointless in his first game against his old teammates. And this is something new: audio file of Bryan McCabe after his up and down night. (C.Y.)
Thanks Chris. Caught most of the fast and furious. My falling asleep on the couch at 9:30 had nothing to do with the hockey, honest. Looks like I missed the best parts. Anyway, there's lots to talk about from around the league last night:
So how are our friends doing in Atlanta? From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (reg. req'd) this morning:
After Thursday's 6-0 thrashing at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning before 12,913 at Philips Arena, the Thrashers have lost four in a row by the combined score of 22-2 and failed to score in three of their seven games.
So what happens? With two minutes left, there's Eric Boulton on the ice to put the elbow to the head of Bolts defenceman Paul Ranger. Boulton gets a major penalty and a game misconduct. Ranger gets a concussion. Nice. I guess Boulton was trying to make up for the elbow that just missed Eric Lindros last Friday?
Says Tampa Bay Coach John Tortorella (the many, many bleeps have been removed - the actual quote is much longer):
"That guy should be playing the East Coast Hockey League and he takes out a National Hockey League player. He'll get suspended, but who cares? Nobody wants him on the ice anyway."
Geez, what've you got against the ECHL, John? Sounds awfully familiar to what Pat Quinn was saying a week ago:
"This guy (Hartley) has a reputation behind their bench. He wired up some guys. They were head-hunting. That one kid, Boulton, took a run at Eric's head. That's trying to hurt people. There should be no place in the game for that."
Thrashers coach Bob Hartley visited Tortorella after the game last night to apologize but there was no report of what was said.
I'm tempted to keep track of penalties in the last two minutes of a game. That's twice in a week for Mr. Boulton. Thanks for coming out - and that intimidation factor really works, eh? Thrashers are 2-5 and quite possibly the worst team in the NHL right now.
Okay, back to hockey -- how 'bout those 6-0 Predators? Little Stevie Sullivan and the boys are rolling. One factor? The dreaded shootout. Preds goalies are perfect stopping those extra shots.
"It's all about mental toughness," Tomas Vokoun said. "I've been part of some shootouts that were do-or-die in international competition, and that was tough."
The Rangers were evecuated from their hotel yesterday after a disgruntled employee dropped a chemical substance in the lobby.
"They don't know how to stop us so they're using chemical weapons against us," said Jaromir Jagr.
Jags might have a point - he's been great (10 goals) but couldn't save his Rangers from a sweep at the hands of the Islanders.
"You say he scored a hat trick," said Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro. "I say we held him to three."
Leafs-Flyers tomorrow. Have a great weekend. (SW)