Maple Leafs goaltender Mikael Tellqvist made the most of his rare back-to-back starts.
Tellqvist made 28 saves and was a perfect 3-for-3 in the shootout - to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs over the visiting Boston Bruins 5-4 on Tuesday night.
|Mats Sundin had two goals Tuesday night. |
(Graig Abel Photography)
"It wasn't an easy game; we gave up a lot defensively,'' said Leafs captain Mats Sundin, who scored two goals and added an assist to pace Toronto's attack. "But (Tellqvist) gave us a chance to win, And he won it for us in the end, in the shootout.''
Toronto left winger Darcy Tucker, the Leafs' second shooter, beat Bruins goalie Tim Thomas on the stick side for the only goal in the shootout, while Tellqvist stopped Boston forwards Brad Boyes, Patrice Bergeron and Marco Sturm.
The Bruins had lost five consecutive games before last night's shootout defeat. The Leafs, meanwhile, have earned seven of a possible eight points in their last four games to keep their playoff hopes alive.
"We really needed the two points tonight,'' Tellqvist said. "That was huge for us. You could see how important the two points was for us, and how badly we wanted it.I thought we could have won in regulation, but we pulled it out in the shootout.''
Tellqvist, who also was between the pipes on Saturday night when Toronto defeated visiting Tampa Bay, made consecutive starts for the first time this season. Toronto's No. 1 netminder, Ed Belfour, is day-to-day with a back injury, according to the team.
"Tellqvist was big tonight when he had to be; he made timely saves,'' Leafs coach Pat Quinn said.
The Leafs called up Jean-Sebastien Aubin from the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies to serve as backup to Tellqvist.
Jason Allison and Bryan McCabe scored for the Leafs (30-28-6) in regulation, while defenceman Tomas Kaberle picked up two assists.
Sundin, meantime, enjoyed his second two-goal game in four contests after failing to record a multi-goal game in his first 47 games this season.
For Boston (25-30-11), Marco Sturm scored twice and Marty Reasoner and Glen Murray added singles.
The Leafs went 2-for-9 on the power play; both goals were scored in a 5-on-3 situation just 35 seconds apart late in the second period. That rally erased Boston's two-goal lead and sent the teams into the third period tied at 4-4.
"We had some opportunities 5-on-3 tonight,'' said Quinn. "Two quick ones, and then the other two times (in the first period). But I don't know if we came close on the other two (5-on-3 chances). Guys were holding the puck too long, and the (Bruins) defence never had to do anything.''
Boston, meanwhile, was 2-for-5 with the man advantage, including a 5-on-3 goal by Sturm 36 seconds into the second period.
The game, played in front of 19,441 fans at Air Canada Centre, was a spirited affair between two Eastern Conference teams desperately trying to qualify for the playoffs.
The Bruins have gone 2-8-3 in their past 13 games to fall to 13th in the Eastern Conference. The Leafs, meanwhile, entered last night's game in 11th place in the East. The eighth-place Montreal Canadiens were idle.
Thomas stopped 29 of 33 shots, including a pair of third period saves on Sundin when the Leafs centre was looking for his hat trick.
The Leafs, who are five points back of eighth-place Montreal, now embark on a critical part of their schedule if they hope to make the playoffs. Toronto plays seven of their next eight games on the road, and face only one non-playoff team in that stretch the last-place Pittsburgh Penguins.
"There's so many games left, our only concern is our own play,'' Sundin said. "We know we can play better than we did in January (3-9-2) and we can beat the teams we need to beat to make it in (the playoffs).''
The Leafs visit the soaring Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.