TORONTO - The Toronto Maple Leafs got back to their winning ways Tuesday night but they would have perferred to do it without losing the services of a key offensive talent.
Alexander Mogilny could be out for an extended period of time after injuring his back in the first period of the Leafs' 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks at Air Canada Centre.
Mogilny was challenging defenceman Brad Stuart at the side of the Sharks' net when he got thrown, back first, into the end boards. Stuart had his stick jammed between Mogilny's legs and pushed him, forcing the impact on his spine.
| Alex Mogilny was in severe pain after being thrown into the boards. |
Graig Abel Photography
The forward laid on the ice for several minutes before finally getting to his knees. A stretcher was called but he was taken off the ice with the help of medical staff. The condition was described after the game as severe back spasms. Mogilny didn't go to hospital and won't make the trip to Atlanta where the Leafs play Wednesday night.
"These guys (hockey players) play a tough game and you don't have to be cheap on top of that, and to me that was cheap," Pat Quinn said. "The problem is the way the kid did it, he pried the legs so that the player was off balance, and that's OK, as long as you don't drive him into the boards with violence."
Linemates Darcy Tucker and Shayne Corson came to Mogilny's rescue while the referees did not. No penalty was called on the play but Tucker was given two minutes for roughing because of the ensuing melee.
"That's why people want to get rid of the instigator (penalty) because that guy should have been made to pay immediately if the referee wasn't going to do anything," Quinn said.
Fortunately the Sharks didn't capitalize on their opportunity and the Leafs headed to the intermission with a 2-0 lead on goals from Travis Green and Jonas Hoglund.
The Sharks came out to play in the second, getting Todd Harvey's first of the game but penalty trouble killed that burst of momentum. Bryan McCabe responded with his first of two, just after the Leafs' advantage ended, making it a two-goal game once again.
McCabe's second tally was a powerplay goal, which also gave Toronto the third-period insurance marker it needed. Scott Hannan and Harvey added late goals for the Sharks.
"They got a couple cheesy goals, the bounces aren't going our way right now," said McCabe.
The loss of Mogilny for any length of time is a huge loss especially with the Leafs struggling to find the net in the month of January. Just his presence gives the opposition a dangerous player to think about other than Mats Sundin.
"Anytime you lose a star player it's going to hurt your hockey club," Gary Roberts said. "I thought he got the stick under him and he couldn't defend himself."
On the bright side, Mogilny will get a full week to rest the back because of the All-Star break. After Wednesday, Toronto doesn't play again until next Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. NOTES:
It was Toronto's third straight win over San Jose ... The Leafs killed six powerplays ... Curtis Joseph played his 700th NHL game ... Gary Roberts tested his back with some fisticuffs in the first period ... Tie Domi and Bryan Marchment tried to fight in the third but it was broken up by the linesmen. Not to worry, they decided to go after their roughing penalties ended ... Pat Quinn celebrated his 59th birthday.