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Kessel, Kulemin Spark Leafs

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Matt Iaboni

September 27, 2010
Air Canada Centre
Toronto, ON
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2 1 2 0 0 5

The Maple Leafs and Sabres played an entertaining game that had lots of chances, tons of shots and pleny of excitement of the fans. With the two teams tied at 3-3 after 40 minutes the difference was two Leafs' goals in the third period.

It was Christian Hanson and Nikolai Kulemin scoring goals 1:05 apart to give the Leafs a 5-3 lead halfway through the third period that stood up as the difference as the Leafs avenged Saturday's loss in Buffalo.

5 Shots by Colby Armstrong to lead all Leafs.
77 Total combined shots on net by the two teams.
+3 For Dion Phaneuf on the night.
16 Blocked shots by the Leafs.
35 Saves made by Jonas Gustavsson.
1st Star
Phil Kessel
G A P +/- Shots
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2nd Star
Nikolai Kulemin
G A P +/- Shots
2 0 2 +2 2
3rd Star
Nathan Gerbe
G A P +/- Shots
2 0 2 +1 5
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Nikolai Kulemin had a breakthrough season in 2009-10. He spent a great deal of time on the top line with Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel and he looks to have carried his great finish into the preseason.

Playing on a line with good friend Mikhail Grabovski and newcomer Clarke MacArthur, Kulemin has now scored four goals in the preseason. He was flying around the ice as he ended his solid night with two goals, a plus two in 15:51 of ice-time on the Leafs' second line.

One of the young Leafs who needed to have a strong training camp was Christian Hanson. The centre has been one of the more impressive players in camp and he looks to have solidified his spot.

Against the Sabres not only did he score his first goal of the preseason, he played in a penalty killing role and he was effective on faceoffs. Hanson, Mike Brown and Colton Orr are three big players who give the Leafs good speed and energy, perfect ingredients for a fourth line.

Ron Wilson iced all six of what is expected to be his starters on defence. With such a packed blueline it will be tough for everyone to get their minutes but on Monday all played over 18 minutes.

Dion Phaneuf and Francois Beauchemin led the way at over 21 minutes with Tomas Kaberle and Mike Komisarek coming in at 20 and 18 minutes respectively with the final pairing of Luke Schenn and Carl Gunnarsson at 19 and 18 minutes.

Ron Wilson on Kris Versteeg's patience creating open ice for Phil Kessel:

"This is going to be a project for Phil to find the open holes. He's not used to playing with someone who will slow the play down like that and find him. Phil's got to be not too fast ... with Kris it looks like Kris wants to carry it in and shut it down and go back against the flow of the play ... I think they're starting to find the chemistry."

Wednesday September 29 @ Ottawa 
7:30 PM ET (Leafs TV, AM640)

Game Notes:
The Leafs play their third last preseason game when they take on the Senators in Ottawa. Fredrik Sjostrom is expected to make his preseason debut.

This will also be one of the final chances for players to make an impression on the coaching staff before the home-and-home with Detroit on Friday and Saturday

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