March 7, 2006(TORONTO)--
It was supposed to be a Game 7 for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the arch-rival Montreal Canadiens. It sure turned out that way.
The Maple Leafs played one of their better games of the season and they were rewarded with a 5-3 win, Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre.
|Ed Belfour was a big factor in the win. |
(Graig Abel Photography)
"We were a lot better, the power play was on and all four lines were going tonight," captain Mats Sundin said.
Tomas Kaberle coming off a great performance at the 2006 Olympics with the Czech Republic was terrific Tuesday night in the victory.
It was Kaberle who made a Savardian spinerama to keep the puck in which eventually led to him scoring on a wicked wrist shot to tie it up at one just 1:38 after the Montreal took the lead.
It was a total team effort on this night. In the first period, down two-men for 1:01, some good penalty killing by Clarke Wilm, Sundin, Bryan McCabe, and Kaberle made sure that it was 1-1 after the first. Kaberle showed great hand-eye coordination when he batted a Michael Ryder shot out of the air to prevent a goal.
The smooth skating defenceman once again anchored the Leafs power play and he helped set up both power play markers in the second.
During their rec recent slump, the Blue and White's power play hasn't done as well as it did in the first half of the season. The power play was 0-for-11 in its previous two games but against the Habs they were 4-for-11.
Kaberle was in on three of the four.
He made the nice feather pass on Mats Sundin's one timer in the second to give the Leafs a 2-1 lead. On the next power play, Kaberle started a nice passing play that Kyle Wellwood finished off for a 3-1 lead.
In the third, Kaberle and Sundin combined for an exact replay of the Sundin's first. It was the first multi-point goal game for Sundin this season. The two points give him 801 with the Maple Leafs, becoming only the third player to register more than 800 points with the Blue and White.
"I don't know for some reason the goal scoring hasn't been the same and you try and contribute in different ways but tonight it was there," Sundin said.
Kaberle has been criticized in the past for not shooting the puck enough but when he does shoot he usually scorers.
"The guys know I will try and shoot," Kaberle said. "When they get in good spots I will give them the puck for the one timer, but they took away Bryan (McCabe) and they gave the shot to Mats."
The win was huge for the confidence of the Maple Leafs who still have two games against Montreal later this month, a loss would've put the Leafs 10 points back of the eighth and final playoff spot.
"We have to play a lot of teams around us or just in font of us," Sundin said. "There is no doubt in our dressing room we can make the playoffs."
Head coach Pat Quinn doesn't want his players to get overly confident as it was only one win and they will need a similar effort to put a good string together.
"We won one in a row and we can only do it by concentrating on the next game."
Quinn and the Leafs have two days off before they look to extend the winning streak to two Friday against the Islanders.