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M & M Make The Difference

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Matthew Iaboni

March 20, 2010
Air Canada Centre
Toronto, ON
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For the second straight game, the Leafs went the distance and for the second consecutive game, the Leafs won in the shootout.

Head coach Ron Wilson went with the same three shooters as Thursday and he got similar results. After Kessel hit the post, Kostitsyn scored for Montreal, Kulemin tied it and Gustavsson stopped Gomez. That set up John Mitchell who used the same move as Thursday to beat Halak. The other M - the Monster - then stopped Gionta for the win.

23:15 Ice-time for Luke Schenn which is a season-high.
5-0 Jonas Gustavsson's record since the Olympic Break.
3 Games in a row that Phil Kessel has scored.
11 Points in 11 in games for Nikolai Kulemin since the Olympic Break.
1-6 Montreal only scored one goal on six power play chances.
1st Star
John Mitchell
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2nd Star
Brian Gionta
G A P +/- Shots
2 0 2 +1 6
3rd Star
Phil Kessel
G A P +/- Shots
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Tyler Bozak continues to emerge as a bona fide number one centre in the NHL. Bozak had his second straight multi-point Saturday. Last week he had three points against Edmonton this week two against Montreal.

Bozak makde a great play on Kessel's goal, chipping the puck off the boards to Kulemin who fed Kessel for the great goal. He was excellent in the faceoff circle, winning 15 of 20 draws and he was a very good part of the penalty killing unit that killed off five of six penalties.

Dion Phaneuf had one of his best games as a Maple Leaf in his first game against the rival Canadiens. Phaneuf made a huge play in the first period as he knocked the puck off the goal line after it got past Gustavsson.

Phaneuf had an assist, had three shots, three hits and he blocked three shots in 28:38 of ice-time. He had a nice hit on Maxim Lapierre in the third period as he led the way in the hit department for the Leafs.

One area that the Leafs have made some huge strides is in the penalty killing department. Prior to the two trades on January 31st, the Leafs were killing penalties at a 70.2% rate. Since that date it is 84.2% which would put them fifth in the NHL.

What are the reasons? The improved goaltending, using quicker forwards (Bozak, Kulemin, Sjostrom and Hanson) and a change in the system with more initial pressure on the puck carrier.

Ron Wilson on what he expects from the strong finish:

"We're seeing that some of these kids, they look like they can play because they're playing in live fire situations right now against teams that are really battling where the points are huge for these teams we're playing. It's their first time getting those opportunities...These guys are basically playing for the jobs and it's fun to see how hard they compete." 

Tuesday March 23 vs. Florida Panthers
  7 PM ET (Sportsnet, AM640)

Game Notes:
The Leafs close out the homestand against the slumping Florida Panthers. The Panthers have gone 4-4-2 in their last ten games and are winless in two.

The Panthers are coming off a 3-1 loss to the Sabres. Florida takes on Tampa Bay Sunday at home before heading out on a three-game Eastern Canada road trip.

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