by Matthew Iaboni
March 23, 2006
In arguably the biggest game of the 2005-06, it wasn't the best time for the Maple Leafs to have one of their worst games of the season losing 5-1 to Montreal.
|Mats Sundin expects the Leafs to play better Saturday. |
"We didn't do a good job executing," head coach Pat Quinn said. "We stopped back checking, our defence missed the play on the first two. If you check like that you can't expect to win."
Right from the get-go Toronto wasn't in the game. Early in the first Luke Richardson was sent in all alone on a breakaway but he decided for a drop pass which didn't result in a shot.
Richardson's tough night continued as he made an ill-advised pinch at the Leafs blue line and that allowed the Canadiens to break in on a 3-2 for an easy goal and a 1-0 lead.
The nightmare didn't end there, just 12 seconds later - at the 4:47 mark - the Canadiens made it 2-0 before many fans were in the seats at the Bell Centre.
With Ed Belfour now expected to be out for the rest of the season, Mikael Tellqvist will assume the number one spot.
"I'm disappointed in my performance," Tellqvist said. "It's one of the biggest games of the year but we get another chance on Saturday. We have to play better than this, I have to play better than this."
What was in the most surprising aspect of Thursday night's game was that the Maple Leafs have done extremely well in the Bell Centre over the years. Going in, the Blue and White had won both games in Montreal this season.
While a win in the NHL is never a guarantee, the thousands of Leaf supporters in attendance, those watching on television and the players themselves were just as surprised in the Leafs' performance. The Leafs first loss at the Bell Centre this season came at the worst possible time.
"I don't think emotion was a problem," Quinn said. "It was execution, they did and we didn't."
In their recent stretch of success, undisciplined penalties had been eliminated as playing a smarter positional game allowed the Leafs to get back in the playoff hunt. But against Montreal, the dumb penalties returned.
First it was hard-working winger Chad Kilger who was caught for the retaliatory cross-check that led to the third goal.
Then Jason Allison's high-sticking penalty 198 feet from the Leafs zone led to the fourth goal.
Despite the poor effort, Quinn wasn't sure what he will do before Saturday's game.
"I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet," he said. "I'm not sure what it was, we didn't get the kind of execution we needed."
The Canadiens have taken Round 1, the Leafs need to take Round 2 to keep their playoff hopes alive.