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Odd Turn Of Events

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Matthew Iaboni

January 09, 2010
Air Canada Centre
Toronto, ON
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On a Penguins power play in the second, Sergei Gonchar's shot appeared to hit the crossbar. Alexei Ponikarovsky was sent in on a breakaway on the ensuing play where he was hooked by Gonchar which resulted in a penalty shot  being called.  At the whistle Gonchar's shot was reviewed and called a goal. As per NHL rules, he was also awarded a hooking penalty as two goals cannot be scored at the same time. The Penguins went up 2-1 and never looked back.

4 Straight games that Matt Stajan has recorded a point.
700 Career NHL games for Jamal Mayers.
93 Shots the Leafs have recorded in their last two games.
2-6-1 Leafs record against the Atlantic Division this season.
95 Number of shots the Leafs put towards the Penguins net - 43 shots on goal, 34 blocked shots and 18 missed shots.
1st Star
Sergei Gonchar
G A P +/- Shots
2 1 3 3 6
2nd Star
Marc-Andre Fleury
43 42 1 59:45 .976
3rd Star
Sidney Crosby
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 2 8
Caption This

On a team with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and Marc-Andre Fleury, defenceman Sergei Gonchar gets overlooked. On Saturday after missing four games he was back in the lineup and he made a huge difference.

He had two goals and an assist tying his season-high for points in a game with three. He played 19:14 of ice-time with six shots and five blocked shots. 

Although he remains snake-bitten, Phil Kessel looked much more dangerous on the night. He had a team high seven shots on net, second only to Crosby's eight for the game high.

Kessel set up Matt Stajan for the lone Leafs goal in the first period and he was one of the reasons that the Leafs' power play was better than it has been in quite some time. He was on the ice for 18:51 which was the highest among Leafs forwards.   

The defending Stanley Cup champions have had two grueling playoff runs in a row so they know that sacrificing the body for the team has its rewards. The Penguins blocked an insane amount of shots (34) on Saturday and heading into action this weekend they were fifth in the NHL in that department with 679.

Kris Letang led the Penguins with eight blocked shots while Gonchar and Matt Cooke had five each.

Matt Stajan on the Leafs' struggles after their best stretch of the season:

"All of us, we started feeling really good about ourselves and were playing really good hockey as a team. So I don't think we ever imagined this. It's not for lack of trying. We're out there giving it our all ... but at the end of the day we've got to find a way to win, that's the game of hockey - you need results and right now we're not getting them and it's up to us to find a way to get results."

Tuesday January 12 vs. Hurricanes
  7 PM ET (Sportsnet, AM640)

Game Notes:
The 30th ranked team in the NHL visits Air Canada Centre on Tuesday. The Hurricanes have won just three road games all season so the Leafs will look to jump on the 'Canes.

The teams have split the first two games which were played in Carolina.

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