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Leafs Certainly Getting Their Shots

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

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by Matthew Iaboni

October 7, 2006

(TORONTO) -- After three regular-season games it's quite evident that Kyle Wellwood is fitting in just fine on right wing for the first line with Mats Sundin and Alexei Ponikarovsky.
Darcy Tucker converted this Kyle Wellwood pass.
(Graig Abel Photography)


In Ottawa on Thursday, the diminutive forward assisted on four of the Leafs six goals. Saturday he added his fifth assist of the season on Darcy Tucker's goal.

After missing practice on Friday, head coach Paul Maurice was asked if Wellwood was injured and he responded: "He hurt himself in one of the hugs. He got squeezed there by a couple of the big guys."

Saturday, Wellwood was at his playmaking best. Not only did he continue to have glorious chances but he made a great no-look assist to Tucker on the power play in the first to tie the game at 1-1.

"I thought he (Wellwood) was going pretty good and I wanted him to have confidence when he played in overtime," Maurice said of the ice time he gave the second-year NHLer.

Although the goals were hard to come by on Saturday the Leafs continued to play at a great pace that gave the Montreal Canadiens all kinds of trouble in their own end. For the second time in three games, the Leafs outshot the opposition, this time 38-33. 

"With the system we are playing we want to keep our feet moving and throw the puck to the net," said Matt Stajan who scored his first of the season. "It's something we are working on and as the season goes on hopefully we put some more in the net."

Stajan struggled at times last season but he came into training camp ready to go and he has done well in three games back at centre, his natural position.

Maurice was pleased with Stajan and his linemates Tucker and Jeff O'Neill.

"I liked his (Stajan) game tonight and I liked it the other night," Maurice said. "If they can hit the net they will be a good line. I liked Jeff who had two shots but he missed the net five times which I didn't like but he is coming along."

The Canadiens stayed close to the Leafs and they were rewarded in the third when Mike Johnson tied the game at 2-2.

After a wild overtime when both teams had power-play chances, great saves by David Aebischer and Andrew Raycroft kept the game tied and resulted in a shootout won by the Canadiens 2-1 in sudden death.

"It's disappointing," Stajan said after the 3-2 loss. "We threw a lot of pucks at the net but their goalie played well as did Rayzor (Raycroft). The game was there for us to take but unfortunately we didn't." 

Maurice was very pleased with the way his team played for the most part.

"I thought we played our butts off," Maurice said. "We missed the net 25 times and they blocked 16 shots. I think we need to relax when we shoot. We get shots on net we just have to put them in the net."

The loss also came at a significant cost when Andy Wozniewski was injured just 26 seconds into the game when he collided with Chris Higgins and fell into the boards.

"It's a shoulder injury and it's significant and he will be evaluated tomorrow (Sunday)," Maurice said. "It didn't look like it was going to be a problem until he came to the bench and you saw his face."

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